learn / 2021

Staying Connected to the Corps: Building an Alumni Network

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by LA Conservation Corps

For 35 years, the LA Conservation Corps has been providing opportunity youth with unique educational and job training experiences. We want to build an active, creative, connected and empowered Alumni Network to harness the power of those generations of former Corpsmembers to strengthen the Corps experience and also provide ongoing to services to newly graduated Corpsmembers who are beginning the next phase of their journey.


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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

For 35 years, the Corps has offered young adults who were out of work and/or out of school a unique program that offers paid work experience on diverse community benefit and environmental projects throughout the greater LA area, comprehensive case management, life and professional skills training, high school completion if needed, and advanced vocational training. Hundreds of young people go through the Corps experience every year. Some flourish when they leave and others are still looking for a network and support system. Our newly developed model of building partnerships with bridge employers has resulted in wonderful job placements for Corpsmembers, but some would benefit from a dedicated connection to Corps support and services. Others are looking for a way to give back and build up the next generation of Corpsmembers coming up.

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

The Corps is a two phase program. Phase 1 is general work experience, case management, personal and professional development for all participants. It’s a time to explore options, break down some barriers to future success, and make plans. Phase 2 offers more focused work experience, vocational training, educational opportunities, and professional development for those interested specifically in the types of conservation and community enhancement work projects we typically do. Now, we would like to launch a Phase 3 alumni services and networking program for any and all former Corpsmembers who would like to take advantage. The baseline service would be support and access to resources for all recently graduated Corpsmembers. This could include continued counseling and case management, job search support, networking, and possibly access to ongoing trainings. Often times, when Corpsmembers leave the familiarity of the Corps and the family they have grown to trust they stumble at a new job or in a new school. Alumni program staff would be available as a point of contact with bridge employers to check on progress or work out challenges the alumni is facing in being successful. From there the program can grow to provide peer-to-peer support between former Corpsmembers, ongoing professional development opportunities, and a network of camaraderie and encouragement.

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?

50
Direct impact
500
Indirect impact

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

First and foremost, we intend that this continued early support will increase employment persistence rates for newly graduated Corpsmember 3 months, 6 months, and a year after leaving the Corps and growth in salary and benefits. Long-term we would like to see this network have an impact on former Corpsmembers career paths and personal and professional success. Just as those who go through a traditional college or university setting are able to access an alumni network, Corpsmembers should have that resource and benefit as well. We know anecdotally that former Corpsmembers are working and thriving in a variety of industries - higher education, city government, public utilities, public safety to name a few. With a formal alumni program we hope to create an active community of partnership, collaboration, ideation, and continued success.

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

We would begin by setting a goal for the percentage of newly graduated Corpsmembers who maintain contact with the Corps and take advantage of the services offered. We have recently been tracking rates of post-Corps employment persistence, college enrollment, and increased earning. We would hope to see both numbers grow with dedicated staff time and effort directed at the program. We would set a target for the number of alumni networking events, trainings, or informational sessions we would like to hold, and for the number of alumni - newly graduated and farther out for the program - we would like to engage in these sessions. Early years successes would defined through primarily quantitative measures as we get the mechanics of the program offerings going. Anecdotal reports of successes will add to our understanding of strengths and weaknesses. Eventually, annual qualitative surveys of participants will help in the design of program offerings and refine successful efforts.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • Opportunity youth (“Disengaged youth” 16-24 not working or in school)

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CREATE