live / 2020

Launching Urban Possibilities Classes Online

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by urban possibilities

Increase job readiness for homeless job seekers sheltering in place at LA Mission with digital 12-week empowerment program using writing and theater. Students perform original pieces for online graduation followed by live talk back and e-book. This pilot program can be adapted for much wider use.


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

  • Central LA

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g, using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • Los Angeles Mission
  • The Geffen Playhouse
  • The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Los Angeles Mission will recruit, vet and provide students on-site and provide an onsite staff coordinator, to work with students, deal with technical needs and provide space for zoom classes.
The Geffen Playhouse & The Wallis provide Theater Practitioners for 4 weeks to prepare students for the stage

What is the need you’re responding to?

Pre-pandemic, 150 Angelenos fell into homelessness daily. Now, that number is expanding exponentially. The nature of homelessness, marked by devastating losses of home, property, and safety, inflicts internal trauma that often becomes a barrier to employment. Urban Possibilities (UP) exists to help remedy these internal traumas and empower homeless job seekers with tools to get back on the road to accomplishment. Partnered with LA Mission, we will convert our classes to a digital format, allowing us to reach homeless job seekers now sheltering in place. UP has delivered in-person classes for 8 years with remarkable student success. UP courses inspire positive focus in our students, build skills and raise self-esteem. Converting to a digital platform in this pilot program, we have the opportunity to gather qualitative and quantitative data to examine program efficiencies and then be able to offer these online classes to other homeless service providers during and post pandemic.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

Since 2014, UP has successfully delivered our empowerment training in the Skid Row Community; 3 years at LA Mission and 4 years at Chrysalis Job Center. Before the pandemic,73% of our graduates were working or in school. We have a proven, results-based curriculum that uses the arts to teach empowerment lessons resulting in enhanced critical thinking, discipline, creativity, communication and collaboration skills as well as increased self-confidence and self-efficacy resulting in improved employment prospects. Our partners, the Geffen Playhouse and the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, supply theatre practitioners as an in-kind contribution to teach our students performance and self-presentation skills. Our graduation performances engage a cross section of Angelenos and inspire audiences to new perspectives about homeless Angelenos and themselves. Our book signings of published student work engage graduates and attendees in meaningful dialogue and cultural exchange.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

45
Direct impact
5,000
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Imagine classes delivered to homeless job seekers in person, online or via cell phone that help them transform from the inside out. Classes that teach tools to help them ace interviews and land jobs. Urban Possibilities offers those classes. UP students participate in a process that helps heal the internal traumas of homelessness. Writing their stories and performing them raises confidence and esteem. Our performances inspire Angelenos to see their homeless neighbors differently, decreasing resistance and stigma. A chronically homeless person costs taxpayers an average of $35,578 a year. We can support the work of service providers to get homeless job seekers on a path to employment and self-sufficiency and lower homeless numbers in LA.

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

Historically, we have graduated 75% of enrolled students. Our students have shown us what success looks like. Completing our unique 12-week program, students feel valued, empowered and land jobs. Learning the building blocks of success, they alchemize muscles built in struggle and employ them to take concrete steps to significantly improve their lives. Through writing and public performance, they come alive to their gifts and talents. Telling their stories on stage, they heal from shame and stigma and inspire Angelenos of all backgrounds to engage in meaningful dialogue, let go of stereotypes and see new possibilities in their homeless neighbors and themselves. Success for the pilot project with LA Mission will allow us to convert our curriculum to an online format to reach homeless job seekers now sheltering in place. Success will prove that our program can be equally effective delivered remotely, allowing greater program expansion. We will measure our impact through pre and post surveys, producing an online graduation show including a live talk back and the sale of an e-book of student work that raises at least $5k for the program. Our goal is to build social media viewership of the online show reaching at least 5000 viewers initially and continuing to increase views with ongoing social media campaigns. Success ultimately will be to scale up delivery by offering classes both online and in person to support and partner with LA agencies on the front line of homelessness.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Homelessness

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Communications support
  • Capacity, including staff
  • Strategy assistance and implementation