connect Winner / 2015

Young Ethnographers: fostering youth development through the Promise Zone Survey

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Los Angeles Promise Zone Initiative, LA Mayor's Office of Economic Development c/o Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Promise Zone Initiative led by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office tests innovative ideas for neighborhood revitalization. This project will make LA the “best place to connect” by providing Promise Zone youth with a summer job as Young Ethnographers. Over the course of 8 weeks next summer, they will engage their neighbors in an assessment of quality of life to guide decision-making within local government and measure how the Promise Zone is improving lives.


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

  • Central LA

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

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Implement and track policy

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

  • Voting rates by race
  • Median travel time to work
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Number of public transit riders
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)

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

The Los Angeles Promise Zone initiative led by the Mayor’s office tests innovative ideas for neighborhood revitalization. We connect sectors that typically work in silos, including education, housing, safety, economic development, and civic engagement. As such, it is the perfect vehicle to make LA the best place to connect. How? By engaging neighborhood youth as “Young Ethnographers” trained in civic engagement, community research and social justice. The Promise Zone Young Ethnographers will have leadership roles in connecting their neighbors, peers, and families with city government, while helping local government become more responsive to community hopes, dreams, and needs.

The Los Angeles Promise Zone (LAPZ) in Central Los Angeles is rich in cultural assets, but faces challenges related to urban poverty. Promise Zone communities include Hollywood, East Hollywood, Thai Town, Little Armenia, Koreatown and Pico Union/Westlake. 35% of LAPZ residents live in poverty, so these neighborhoods face related challenges like low educational attainment and high crime. At the same time, they offer a wealth of culture and history, with residents eager to contribute to their community’s transformation.

The LAPZ will make LA the best place to connect by providing Promise Zone youth with a summer job as Young Ethnographers to engage their neighbors in an assessment of quality of life to guide decision-making within local government and measure how the Promise Zone is improving lives. Young Ethnographers will collect first-hand accounts from PZ residents, businesses, and community leaders to prioritize their needs. They will connect residents with local government and promote a space for dialogue and participatory planning efforts to support the revitalization of the Promise Zone.

We will incorporate youth empowerment by introducing the cultural and political significance of the PZ’s diverse neighborhoods to our Young Ethnographers. By working in and learning more about the neighborhoods in which they live, each participant builds a layer of professional and personal investment. Youth that participate in this program are scholars, scientists, artists, athletes and activists in their own respect - full of untapped potential. LA2050 will unleash this potential by connecting youth to community-based work that will create long-term policy and advocacy solutions for our great city.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

LAPZ has designed the following project goals and outcomes to guide evaluation. These ensure we meet our overarching goal of connecting residents to local government to increase government responsiveness to community needs.

Project Goals: Create a Promise Zone leadership development and civic engagement program Assess residents’ attitudes about quality of life in their neighborhood and identify neighborhood needs Develop policy and program recommendations for local government to implement Develop a multi-lingual survey instrument and playbook used by communities across the region

Project Outcomes: A high quality, unique summer training and employment experience for 29 young PZ residents A successful survey administration effort yielding at least 1,800 surveys A policy and program recommendation report based on the resident survey A replicable survey instrument A playbook of community development and youth empowerment best practices and strategies

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

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach