learn / 2021

POPS the Club POPScast

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by POPS the Club

POPScast is a podcast made by and for teens to explore and discuss the realities of ways the criminal justice system impacts their lives. Teen hosts explore this impact through discussion, expert interviews, call-ins, calls to action and poetry, spoken word, visual arts, and music. Focused on a slice of life approach, POPScast will explore a different theme each week and like POPS the Club, celebrates and honors teens’ voices, visions and ideas and creates a community of learning and support.

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

  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Mass incarceration affects not just those convicted of crimes, but also their loved ones who experience the loss as a “shared sentence.” Stigma and trauma are part of the fabric of the lives of more than 1 in 14 children in America who endure this trauma, and in Los Angeles, estimates suggest that up to 25% of youth in economically vulnerable neighborhoods have a parent or caregiver in jail or prison. POPS the Club provides support to these youth so that they can effectively address and move past mental and emotional challenges they experience as a result of this experience. Through the use of trauma-informed, arts-based programs, POPS creates a safe, empowering space for these teens in their schools, transforming stigma and shame into hope and dignity so they can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, now and as adults. But not all schools have a POPS club, and POPScast is designed for teens who don’t have such a space in their lives.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Guided by professional podcast producers, POPS is developing a podcast. Ten Los Angeles-based grads of the POPS the Club program, will be trained and will work under the guidance of a professional producer to develop a first season that explores teens’ experiences with the criminal justice system. Programming is modeled on POPS the Club meetings (combining mindfulness, art, mentors and conversation) and on Ear Hustle (a podcast about the realities of prisoners’ lives, before and after release, shared by those living it). The podcast will feature discussion of topics about how the criminal justice system touches LA teens’ lives, offering opportunities for artistic expression, authentic open discussion, and interviews with role models like Earlonne Woods, co-creator of Ear Hustle; Oscar-nominated comedians and social activists, the Lucas Brothers; and writer and podcaster Ashley C. Ford. During the grant period, we will develop, market and launch Season One (eight episodes), evaluate its success, and begin production for season two. The goals of this project include 1) Deepening teens’ understanding of and opportunities to share their experiences with the criminal justice system; 2) Building connection with other youth and learning about each others’ experiences; and 3) Creating awareness for the general public around the challenges these youth face as a result of family incarceration and other impacts of the criminal justice on teens’ lives.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The struggle of youth with incarcerated loved ones has been diminished and overlooked for too long. POPS is a proven vehicle that provides support and hope. According to program data, POPS youth are staying in school, increasing their scores on standardized tests, developing self-esteem, and becoming more future-oriented. POPS students who intended to drop out of school are graduating and going on to attend college and have turned away from substance use, traded making art for gang activity, and are embarking paths they were not able to envision before joining POPS. POPScast is designed to be an effective way for POPS to connect with and create community for those youth similarly impacted but who feel alone, while also creating visibility for this urgent issue. By giving youth an opportunity to be seen and heard, to connect with each other and inspiring role models, Los Angeles will have more high school graduates, more social support, and more productive, engaged citizens.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Success for POPScast would be the project’s capacity to fulfill its goals outlined in question 8. As an early-stage project, POPS is currently exploring the most efficient and accurate ways to measure quantitative impact. POPS anticipates it will determine POPScast’s direct impact/success by Number of listeners/downloads; POPScast reviews; POPScast subscribers; Increase in POPS’ website traffic; Repurposing of POPScast content; and Future sponsorship support. Measuring indirect impact, which would include the awareness of the general public about the negative impact having a justice-involved loved one can create in the lives of children, is more challenging to measure. POPS is exploring meaningful ways to assess this impact with its evaluation team, which include experts from USC and CSUN. The most important success indicator is the meaningful impact POPScast makes for the youth creating the podcast and those who discover POPS.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • Arts education

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to PLAY