connect / 2019

LA Connect 2050

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Inspiring Service

Support is needed to create and launch LA Connect 2050, a comprehensive community-wide volunteer guide to empower more Angelenos to easily find their meaningful ways to help (volunteer) in this region. This beautiful, mobile-friendly and frictionless platform is based on a successful suite of technology developed to inspire, empower and engage more people in volunteerism. Our platforms are now active in Ohio and Nevada and are being developed for other communities from coast to coast.


What does your organization do?

Our mission is to inspire and empower people and organizations to engage in volunteering that improves and strengthens communities and themselves. We strengthen volunteer ecosystems with technology.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

This is a story of a Los Angeles-born entrepreneur who created some of the world’s most important computer-aided design software and is now putting that genius to work trying to fix one of the world’s biggest absurdities. Nearly 25 years ago, entrepreneur Craig Young started a foundation after achieving tremendous success in the software industry. One of his firms had become the leading outside supplier to Apple’s Claris software subsidiary. The foundation grew in 1998 after he sold his most lucrative company to a Cincinnati firm. Young and his wife, Mary Beth, whose kids then were 6-, 4- and 3-years-old, began to take an active interest in philanthropy, supporting organizations impacting quality of life, such as UNICEF, WWF, the American Red Cross, United Way and Salvation Army. As the kids grew older, themes began to emerge – helping people who don’t have opportunities in life, humanitarian causes and improving quality of life for all. Every year, the Youngs would provide their kids with poker chips and information about various causes and let the kids place their chips on the cause brochures they had gathered as a way of choosing where the family’s philanthropy would go. The family also embarked on hands-on philanthropy. As the kids grew older, they challenged their dad to merge his business, technology and volunteering interests. Young became a board member of a number of local and national organizations, exposing him to another significant volunteer activity. Along with partners, Young in 2007 created UGIVE.ORG, a nonprofit aimed at catalyzing, exciting and empowering the next generation of volunteers. The program expanded to high school and college campuses in 22 states when it was merged with the Muhammad Ali Center. In 2010, Young’s son, Michael, a USC grad, created myActions, which with Young’s and Michael’s friends’ help became the leading student-powered college network for sharing sustainable and socially responsible actions. Young became concerned about the systems supporting volunteers, leading in 2017 to the creation of 501(c)(3) Inspiring Service, which turned its attention to creating technology platforms that would better connect volunteers to ways to help in the community where they live.

Which of the connect metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Voting rates

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

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

How will your project make LA the best place to connect?

Our project is the creation of a digital community-wide volunteer guide (CVG), LA Connect 2050, tentatively located at LAConnect2050.org. This guide will be patterned after our successful CVGs in Ohio and Nevada, where our platforms have become the most popular places for citizens of those respective regions to find ways to help (volunteer). Based on our other successes, we project LA Connect 2050 would, after 24 months of operation, have helped tens of thousands of citizens of Los Angeles County find their way to help, many of whom would otherwise have given up due to the lack of a comprehensive guide in the region. As awareness and confidence in the platform builds based on marketing and staff support from LA2050, we would expect the citizen connections to grow substantially in the second full year, and continue to grow annually for the next 10 years and subsequent two decades. Based on this growth in helping Greater Los Angeles residents find their way to help, LAConnect2050.org will ensure the rise of the Los Angeles region’s volunteer rates from the current 2.48 million (24.1 percent of the current 10 million+ population) to more than 8.78 million (65 percent of the projected 13.5 million population) by 2050. This achieves one of LA2050’s major measurable metrics. Volumes of research credit greater volunteerism with increased voting rates and better social and emotional status of participating citizens, for which LA Connect 2050 will also contribute to improving. Critical to the success of the platform will be its comprehension in all geographies, capturing all volunteer-engaging organizations in Los Angeles County. Most volunteer-engaging organizations in the region – we estimate there are roughly 8,000-10,000 – will welcome the opportunity to be part of the guide because it will be free. And our online forms make it easy for them to do so. But it will be important to invest resources to ensure that all organizations are represented, regardless of the organization’s ability to create a profile. Key to our success will be high-quality content. One of the first steps to achieve comprehension is to develop partnerships and cooperation from the dozens of nonprofit organizing coalitions – community foundations, United Ways, chambers of commerce and other similar bodies who can provide quick access and verification that the vast majority of nonprofits they work with gets communication and direction on how to be part of the CVG. We estimate the timeline to get to 75 percent comprehension is about one year. With funding this summer, the site can go live this fall. Our platform supports all aspects of volunteerism, from hands-on work to skills-based to board level, across all causes – creating a one-stop shop for the region. An ongoing communication schedule with all nonprofits organized by cause on a monthly basis ensures that the platform’s information and the ways for which they are seeking help always remains up-to-date.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

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

Our measures are your measures, and our connections to the region make this a personal passion that clearly defines our view that failure of this launch is not an option. As mentioned elsewhere, Craig Young was born in Los Angeles and his family connections (aunts, uncles and cousins) make this work a homecoming for him and his family. His mother and father met at and graduated from Hollywood High. His grandparents lived and died in Los Angeles. As a result of these long family ties as well as Craig’s business interests elsewhere in California during his earlier years in business, Craig maintains a broad network of family, friends and colleagues working and living in the Southern California region. Also as mentioned, Craig’s son, Michael, graduated from the University of Southern California, as did his older son and father. The combination of family and business ties to this region makes this a more personal desire to help the region than any of the other communities we serve.

The LA2050 goal calls for Los Angeles to lead the nation in voting and volunteerism rates. Research demonstrates strong ties between increased volunteerism and increased voter rates, so we see ourselves helping with voting rates as well as our core goal of helping to get 60 percent of Greater Los Angeles residents volunteering vs. 24.1 percent now. Our most defining metric is when a potential volunteer contacts an organization, a unit of a measure we call a referral. We actively monitor referrals to identify trends, monitor site usage and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. We can even tell when the organizations who receive our referrals aren’t responding, another factor in volunteer fatigue we hope to alleviate. Significant growth in referrals along with implementing change management in the way nonprofits engage volunteers will be the key drivers behind defining success as we move forward.