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create / 2019

RiseLocal LA: Amplifying LA’s Equity Innovators

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by New America CA

Economic inequality in LA is among the worst in the nation. But Angelenos are bringing their signature creativity and hustle to beat it. RiseLocal LA will be a day-long solutions workshop, connecting up-and-coming innovators with established efforts and celebrating what’s working in economic equity, as well as generating new solutions and providing a set of post-session seed grants to support the day’s most promising, action-ready ideas.

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

In 2017 Erika Pinheiro was working as an immigration lawyer in LA and volunteering in her spare time with Al Otro Lado, an organization serving migrants and refugees at the US/Mexico border. She was also a Fellow with New America CA.

Suddenly, Erika started seeing changes in how Al Otro Lado’s clients were being treated. There was a spike in deportations of vulnerable undocumented residents, such as single parents and unaccompanied children. She was also seeing clients seeking asylum– which is a right under law – being systematically turned away. There were so many people in need, and few attorneys at the border to help them.

Erika knew she had to respond. She quit her job and moved to Tijuana, defending migrants during the day and sleeping on the floor of the Al Otro Lado office at night. Her only income was her New America CA fellowship stipend, which allowed her to live as a full-time volunteer.

Around this time, New America CA introduced Erika to Cecilia Munoz. Erika was planning a lawsuit on behalf of those being denied the right to seek asylum, and Cecilia connected her with former government colleagues who helped craft a congressional advocacy strategy. Ultimately Erika did sue, asking the court to declare illegal any actions not aligned with asylum protocol, and to introduce systems to get the government to follow the right policies moving forward.

Since then, Erika has become a go-to expert for people looking for the latest news from the border. Leveraging her communications training from New America CA, she has written and spoken on behalf of migrants on issues from due process to family separation.

Over the course of Erika’s New America CA fellowship, her seed of inspiration grew into huge impact. And New America CA was there to accelerate it – through connections to people who gave valuable counsel, a stipend when she didn’t have a paycheck, and communications coaching that helped her maximize the impact of the stories she has to tell.

We know that New America CA’s tools can be useful to other Angelenos ready to take bold steps toward a more equitable community. RiseLocal LA will bring these important resources to more innovators who are making LA the best place to CREATE.

Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Gini coefficient

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

  • County of Los Angeles

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

Income inequality is growing. As of 2017, Los Angeles was the 7th most-unequal city in the country. A study by PolicyLink and USC’s PERE found that people of color are disproportionately impacted by this growing wealth divide – nearly 25% of African-American and Latinx residents are living in poverty. And research has shown correlations between this level of economic inequality and negative outcomes that impact all community residents, such as gender discrimination, crime, and worsening mental health. (Keeley, B., 2015, Income Inequality: The Gap between Rich and Poor, OECD Insights.)

Fortunately, innovators from across LA are facing this challenge head-on. From incubators for startup founders of color to pathways to financial independence for survivors of domestic violence, they are generating local solutions with the potential to make economic opportunity available for all.

These solutions could benefit even more people than they already do. But social entrepreneurs doing great local work don’t always have access to the networks and resources they need for their ideas to spread. RiseLocal LA will bring together both new and established voices in economic equity to:

  1. Connect local innovators with government, nonprofit and corporate leaders who can strengthen their efforts

  2. Surface and celebrate what’s working

  3. Generate new ideas and partnerships and provide implementation support, including two $10,000 seed grants and assistance from New America CA to get projects off the ground

Here’s how it’ll work: starting this summer, New America CA will launch a nomination process to gather the community’s recommendations for dynamic LA leaders who are innovating for economic equity. We’ll identify the people contributing the most promising new ideas, then invite them to share their work at RiseLocal LA, providing pre-event coaching on storytelling and communication to ensure that their messages pop.

In early 2020, stakeholders from across LA county– including leaders from the government, nonprofit and corporate sectors – will gather with our equity innovators for a day of celebration and idea-exchange. They’ll share their successes and dive deeper on the challenges that remain. They’ll also combine forces around potential new projects to take their good work even further.

After the event, RiseLocal LA participants will be in the running for two $10,000 grants to support ideas and collaborations forged at the event. This seed funding will come with support from New America CA team members – from project management to amplification through our networks– to help get these new projects off the ground. We’ll also publish content from other innovators featured at the event to amplify the work of all participants, whether or not they receive other follow-on support.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Post-pilot (testing an expansion of concept after initially successful pilot)

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

Over the long term, the efforts stemming from RiseLocal LA will help lower LA county’s Gini coefficient – especially among marginalized communities – bringing its income inequality in line with that of the rest of the country.

Immediately measurable metrics for the program’s success will include:

– The number and diversity of LA innovators nominated for RiseLocal LA

– The number and quality of new connections reported by RiseLocal LA participants post-event

– The diversity – in race, gender, sexual orientation, and interest area within the field of economic equity– of innovators featured at RiseLocal LA

– The quality of New America CA’s pre-event technical assistance in communication and storytelling, as rated by RiseLocal LA participants

– The number of new ideas for building economic equity that are generated at the event

– The number of follow-up actions participants pledge to take after the event

– Two $10,000 grants successfully given to RiseLocal LA participants post-event

– The quality of New America CA’s post-event technical assistance, as rated by grantees

– Grantees’ success in accomplishing their project goals

– Levels of social media engagement before, during and after the event

Attendees at the first RiseLocal event, held in San Francisco in 2017, shared that the gathering helped them make critical new connections, move forward new initiatives, share their work more broadly, forge alliances across traditional lines, and shift organizational strategies.