create / 2015

Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Arts For Incarcerated Youth Network

AIYN is seeking funds to match an investment by the Los Angeles County Probation Department and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission to provide comprehensive, multi-disciplinary arts programming in all juvenile detention camps and halls across Los Angeles County in the coming year. This bold initiative has the power to transform our young people, the systems that serve them, and create a powerful resource for the creative economy in Los Angeles.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Advocate with policymakers and leaders

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)
  • Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

AIYN is using arts as a foundational strategy to transform our young people into healthy adults who are assets to the creative economy of Los Angeles.

The positive impact of arts education on youth currently or formerly involved in the juvenile justice system is well documented in numerous studies. According to a National Governors Association Center for Best Practices study, the arts contribute to lower recidivism rates, increased self-esteem, the acquisition of job skills, and the development of creative thinking, problem solving, and communication skills among high-risk and at-risk youth. Participants in youth arts programs exhibit reduced delinquent behavior and fewer new court referrals than their non-participating peers.

Additionally, we are gathering an increasing body of evidence that the arts are a uniquely powerful tool in helping youth understand, articulate, and process trauma. This has led AIYN to refer to integrated, experiential arts education as a “healing-informed practice.” Arts programming also has been proven to strengthen essential 21st Century learning skills of creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, and enables and encourages youth to access creative economy jobs.

In addition to providing programming to youth, a core component of our work is engaging Probation as a partner: AIYN seeks to provide hands-on training for Probation staff in the camps, halls, and community transition. This ongoing professional support serves to integrate arts as a key strategy with youth within the culture of Probation itself.

AIYN has established partnerships with LA County Probation, and LA County Arts Commission. AIYN has successfully completed two hands-on professional development trainings for Probation staff, as well as the Freedom Schools project (providing arts programming in the afternoon as part of Children’s Defense Funds’ Freedom Schools program in 6 LA County Detention camps) in partnership with Probation and the Arts Commission. All parties confirmed the evaluation findings – that this is a successful, transformative partnership.

AIYN is poised to become a powerful vehicle for partnership among community agencies, and between community agencies and public partners. With support, AIYN can become a champion for the arts as a violence prevention tool in practice, policy, and systems culture, as well as an effective strategy to strengthen LA’s creative economy.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We have already done pre- and post- evaluations, and qualitative workshops with our Freedom Schools summer pilot program. These evaluations demonstrated the powerful impact of these programs on improving educational and social outcomes for participants, as well as outlook on the future (including employment). Our findings are being included in the upcoming USC evaluation report.

Moving forward, we will continue to deepen the pre- and post-surveys, and look forward to working with our partners to develop long-term outcome measures, including access to resources upon release, job placement, school placement, and reduced recidivism.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)