learn / 2016

Los Angeles is a Puzzle; Together We Make Sense of It

Los Angeles is a Puzzle; Together We Make Sense of It

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Los Angeles Service Academy

LASA empowers a diverse group of LA's youth to not only understand the complexities of civic infrastructure, but be the problem-solvers and visionaries of our city’s immediate and far-flung future.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

USC; Huntington Library; LAPL

Please describe your project proposal.

LASA proposes to expand its learning activities by investing in greater cohesion amongst our students, easing transportation concerns, and creating and sustaining our community of alumni to create change in LA. LASA plans to create a comprehensive database of current students and alumni to capture feedback after each session as well as feedback from alumni who can articulate how LASA changed their career or study trajectories.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • College matriculation rates
  • District-wide graduation rates

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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Gateway Cities
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

Designed as a supplement to the regular school year, LASA will make greater Los Angeles the best place to learn by providing an intensive introduction to the infrastructure and institutions of greater Los Angeles for high school juniors who have expressed an interest in public, civic, and civil service. Through LASA, students learn from the very heart of the region’s history and culture, and, in so doing, learn how best they can contribute to the region and our collective problem-solving obligations.

LASA engages their curiosity and desire to create change in a diverse landscape of spaces from the Metropolitan Water District, the Port of Los Angeles, the business community, to the local arms of the judicial system.

Participants gain the experience and knowledge necessary to better understand the intricacies – infrastructural, historical, political, economic, and otherwise – of the region in which they live, and build lasting bonds of friendship, camaraderie, and work experience with a diverse group of peers. LASA combines seminars, fieldwork and student engagement. LASA speakers - in the dozens - including Jeff Kightlinger of the Metropolitan Water District, Raphael Sonenshein of the Pat Brown Institute at California State University-Los Angeles, and Maria Cabildo of the East LA Community Corporation - help the students create a foundation of knowledge to inform their visions for the future.

LASA contributes to LA as a space to learn by encouraging the students to learn by sharing their diverse experiences with each other and with the speakers. They listen to each other and define the issues in LA they want to address moving forward.

Our hope is that, over time, LASA will change the lives and career paths of hundreds of high school students in the region and will become an agent of change and community building throughout Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

LASA’s definition of success is twofold. First, LASA seeks to introduce youth to the complexities of LA infrastructure. Second, LASA seeks to empower youth to become problem-solvers and agents of change.

LASA measures success via:

  • Number of students participating and number applying;
  • Positive written feedback from students, teachers, and speakers.
  • Students’ knowledge of the aspects of LA infrastructure and ability to frame issues they plan to address moving forward;
  • Further, by creating the alumni database, LASA will be able to track, foster, and celebrate the change LASA graduates bring to LA in concrete terms.

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

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support