Invisible to Invincible

submission by

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

Jovenes, Inc.

Organization website:

Organization Twitter handle:


Organization Facebook page:

Organization Instagram:


Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization



Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


Jovenes is a place of personal transformation for homeless youth ages 18-25. We provide stable housing options and supportive services.

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.


The #Invisible2Invincible Campaign raises awareness for challenges faced by homeless youth, systemic change, and develops youth leadership.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)


Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


From #Invisible2Invincible- Making #LA the healthiest place to Live and transforming the lives of #HomelessYouth. #LA2050

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



What is your idea/project in more detail?


The youth we serve commonly share their feelings of invisibility, isolation, and insignificance and generally don’t have a positive vision for themselves or their future. In spite of this, they express a desire to use their experiences to create social change and improve their communities. The Invisible to Invincible campaign utilizes positive youth development, leadership activities, and internships to create change. By providing an opportunity for youth to engage in, and lead, this campaign, Jovenes is creating an innovative and effective model for engagement with homeless youth that taps into their resiliency and capacity for personal growth, permanent change, and invincibility.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?


There are three main objectives for the Invisible to Invincible Campaign: 1) Political/Community change regarding the four challenges identified in our research & policy report, 2) increasing awareness & support for homeless youth within our community and neighbors, and 3) personal transformation for program participants. As Jovenes continues to expand our housing capacity, we also seek to identify and address policies and systems that push youth into homelessness or which contribute to the challenges they face as they seek to move their lives forward.

Our youth recently made a documentary entitled “From Invisible to Invincible” which tells powerful stories of how they became homeless and highlights their resilience. The Invisible to Invincible Campaign will utilize this film, along with our research and policy report, to educate our community and empower our youth to create change. Currently, Jovenes is offering three types of internships within this campaign:

1. Invisible to Invincible Interns: raise awareness of youth homelessness in our Los Angeles, and advocate for potential solutions. In addition, interns will work with Jovenes staff to develop and coordinate new tools and activities to assist our clients and youth in our community overcome their personal cycles of homelessness and access the necessary resources for a better future. These interns also lead presentations and screenings of the Jovenes documentary.
2. Peer Healthcare Ambassadors: Obtaining health coverage is a priority for homeless youth, but navigating the healthcare system presents a constant challenge. Through partnerships with agencies that specialize in healthcare enrollment, Jovenes is able to create internship opportunities where our youth become trained in healthcare promotion and conduct youth focused outreach and education activities to help other youth receive the care they need.
3. Social Media Ambassadors: Create content through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to create awareness for the Invisible to Invincible Campaign and the challenges faced by homeless youth.

How will your idea/project help make LA the healthiest place to live today? In 2050?


This project has a chance to change the way LA sees and understands youth homelessness, and the ways homeless youth view themselves. By creating powerful content utilizing research, program-based data, and storytelling and utilizing the reach of social media, creative presentations, and strong partnerships, the #Invisible2Invincible campaign has the potential to help prioritize homeless youth as a population which needs every opportunity to succeed.
The young men housed at Jovenes come from a very diverse set of backgrounds and have many reasons why they are experiencing homelessness. We see youth who have recently immigrated to the US, youth recently released from jail, youth who have been institutionalized through the foster care system, LGBTQ youth who have been pushed out of their homes, youth with mental disabilities, youth leaving gangs, and a variety of ethnicities
Despite their differences, the youth (especially those who choose to participate in the #Invisible2Invincible Campaign) learn to see through what typically sets them apart and understand how to come together. Through Jovenes, youth learn that homelessness is just an experience that they are going through- it doesn’t define them or limit their dreams. This lesson exemplified in how youth begin to support one another, provide encouragement, and celebrate each other’s successes. Each of the youth has experienced times when they have been put down or made to feel invisible. By working together to tap into their inherent resiliency and strengths, they begin to feel Invincible and learn how to overcome their challenges in a positive and productive way.
In addition to changing the narrative and raising awareness for homeless youth, this campaign can also make LA a healthier place to live today and in 2050 by advocating for increased permanent housing and ensuring at-risk and homeless youth have access to healthcare. Through Jovenes’ growing Continuum of Care, which is expanding to over 70 units of housing (including short-term shelter, permanent supportive housing, affordable housing, and subsidized rental units), we will be able to showcase the various ways our city can end youth homelessness through public/private partnerships. By creating youth-friendly healthcare outreach materials & presentations, this campaign can make the process for youth to enroll in healthcare a less daunting and more accessible opportunity.

Whom will your project benefit? Please be specific.


On any given night, there are over 5,000 youth experiencing homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles. In the public schools surrounding Jovenes, we have learned that there are over 1,000 students who face housing instability. Although the youth we serve come from diverse backgrounds, common barriers to a stable future are found throughout our target population. The findings in our Research and Policy Report, titled From the Fringes - Understanding Homelessness Transition Age Youth in Inner City Los Angeles. This report identified four main challenges faced by homeless youth, which we are addressing through the campaign:
1. Barriers to safe, supportive, and affordable housing
2. Challenges accessing basic benefits and health services
3. Barriers to educational, professional, and economic development
4. Overcoming trauma and emotional illiteracy.

The membership base for the campaign primarily comes from the young men Jovenes serves in our shelter programs and youth who have exited homelessness and moved into permanent housing. When working with homeless youth, we see that providing small stipends recognizes the immediate needs of our youth and values the commitment they make to this project. In addition, Jovenes will continue to work with partners and volunteers to create storytelling projects featuring the youth we serve in order to highlight their stories, raise awareness, and improve our youth’s sense and vision of themselves through art.

Through this campaign, Jovenes seeks to provide internships and leadership development activities to approximately 20 youth each year. All youth are between the ages of 18-25, are currently or have recently experienced homelessness, and are predominantly Latino and African-American. We seek to have a broad impact through this campaign that could potentially benefit the thousands of youth who experience homelessness in Los Angeles each year.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.


In March 2014, the Invisible to Invincible Campaign began operating out of the brand new Wellness Center at the LAC+USC General Hospital, where we are able to engage in close partnership and youth development practices with the fifteen other organizations that are co-located at this facility. Basing these internships and activities out of the Wellness Center provides youth with valuable work experience in a professional setting.
Engaging with partners will be key to the success of the Invisible to Invincible Campaign. Partnerships are critical to advance our policy/systems change agenda, create additional opportunities for youth, and create storytelling projects. The following are key confirmed organizations and partners whom Jovenes is collaborating with to move this project forward:
1. Wellness Center organizations
2. Building Healthy Communities- Boyle Heights (includes over 40 Boyle Heights based non-profits)
3. Corporation for Supportive Housing
4. Department of Mental Health/Housing Institute
5. The Los Angeles Coalition to End Youth Homelessness
6. Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community
7. Art Center College of Design
8. Advancing Justice LA
9. Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center/Youth Opportunity Movement
10. Brothers, Sons, Selves Collaborative for Boys & Young Men of Color

How will your project impact the LA2050 "LIVE" metrics?

Access to healthy food

Healthcare access

Exposure to air toxins

Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard

Percent of imported water

Obesity rates

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Rates of mental illnesses

Prevalence of adverse childhood experience (Dream Metric)

Percentage of LA communities that are resilient (Dream Metric)

Percentage of residents receiving coordinated healthcare services (Dream Metric)

Percentage of tree canopy cover (Dream Metric)


Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

This campaign will impact various “LIVE” metrics, especially rates of homelessness. By continuing to create permanent housing opportunities for youth, Jovenes will play our part in our city’s ongoing efforts to end homelessness. By demonstrating how our organization is successfully implementing private and public partnerships, we can show how other communities and organizations can follow our model. Jovenes is seeking to do the majority of our work in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles- two communities that are especially resilient by face long-standing economic and social justice challenges. The #Invisible2Invincible campaign also emphasizes and budgets for evaluation, so we can keep track and share our progress towards impacting the 2050 metrics.

Please select which other LA2050 Goals are relevant to your project or organization (check all that apply):

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the best place to LEARN

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.


This program will be evaluated by the number of internship opportunities Jovenes is able to create, the number of youth Jovenes is able to connect to leadership and storytelling activities, and our ability to affect policy and systems change. A major challenge is operating this campaign is its uniqueness; it is very rare for homeless youth to be engaged in this manner. As youth are participating in these internships, they are still working on a personal level to overcome the challenges associated with homelessness.

In addition, Jovenes will utilize the data we collect through our housing programs to contribute to the conversations and knowledge about best practices for helping youth permanently exit homelessness. Over the last three years, Jovenes has tripled our capacity by creating permanent housing. We’re using a mix of public funding, private financing, effective partnerships, and innovative program design to offer youth multiple forms of permanent housing that are flexible enough to meet their needs and various challenges.

Learning from our data is critically important to improving our services. As the organization continues to grow, we are seeking to ensure that the data and information we collect from our youth can be used to better understand the unique challenges faced by our population, and institute best practices to quickly move them into permanent housing. Unfortunately, data about the overall effectiveness of housing programs for homeless youth in LA is not widely available. That’s why Jovenes is partnering with organizations like the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the LA Coalition to End Youth Homelessness to develop better sets of data and metrics so we can have a better measurement for evaluation across the city, and organize a more comprehensive Homeless Youth Point-In-Time count in January 2015 which will produce more accurate data.. We seek to be a major contributor in the development of metrics and evaluation tools that will help our community continue to improve services for homeless youth.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?


1) Permanent Housing is the only way to end homelessness. For the first 20 years that Jovenes has been around, we were only able to offer short-term shelter programs to our youth. It’s unrealistic to expect homeless youth who have gone through so many traumas to turn their lives around in 90 days, or even 8 months. It didn’t provide our youth with enough time and support to recover, increase their self-confidence, build trusting relationships, visualize their goals, and put in place a plan of action. We also learned from emerging best practices and were noticing the shift in federal policies that are really emphasizing permanent housing over shelter services. It was our moment to make strategic decisions that would provide our agency with the best opportunity to grow, and provide our youth with the best opportunities to succeed.
2) It takes more than housing to help youth successfully end their personal cycles of homelessness. Bringing our youth into this campaign not only allows Jovenes to put a face on the issues surrounding youth homelessness, but is also a powerful tool to empower our youth to live successful and independent lives. We encourage our youth to think of themselves as leaders and our process is geared to bring out their voice, increase their confidence & connectedness, and become independent. To develop leadership, Jovenes creates opportunities for engagement through paid internships. A critical challenge and need for our youth is to gain work experience and develop financial independence.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.


The Invisible to Invincible Campaign is an on-going project that started in March 2014. Support from LA 2050 will supercharge this initiative and take our public awareness efforts to the next level. Jovenes seeks to continually hire and train interns to participate in this campaign and staff the Wellness Center office. Goals for the campaign are to hold screenings of the documentary From Invisible to Invincible at least twice per month, as well as organize events and forums on topics that are related to this campaign (such as a healthcare forum targeting at-risk youth to help and encourage them to obtain healthcare).
• March 2014- Open Wellness Center Office
• April 2014- Hire 1st round of interns
• May-September 2014- Hold community meetings and presentations
• October 2014- TAY Healthcare Convening
• November 2014- Hire 2nd round of Interns
• November 2014- August 2015 continue campaign/internship activities, hold community meetings and presentations.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?


1) Ensuring consistent participation from youth Interns:
Homeless youth face constant instability. They are in a position where they must look out for their futures by focusing on employment and income development. As a result, taking on an internship oftentimes presents a conflict with their other priorities, such as searching for full-time jobs, applying for benefits which they are eligible for, receiving counseling, and overcoming the trauma of homelessness. By providing stipends to youth interns, we are able to develop a manageable works schedule, provide a financial incentive, and support youth in their pathway of personal growth.

2) Challenging the stereotypes:
There is little widespread knowledge about homeless youth in LA, but there are common stereotypes that this population chooses to be homeless, is lazy, and that they do not make positive contributions to our society. This campaign can directly confront those stereotypes and misconceptions by showcasing the resilience of this population, highlighting their personal growth, creating understanding of their challenges, and displaying how they contribute through employment, volunteerism, and empowerment. In addition, ending youth homelessness is a public benefit that reduces costs associated with incarceration, healthcare, and emergency services.

What resources does your project need? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

8 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

So yesterday September 11, 2014 we screened the documentary "From Invisible To Invincible" in the shelter at Jovenes Inc. for all our new youth who have never seen the film before. We heard so many stories about what made our youth feel Invisible and what made them feel Invincible. Here are some reasons why they felt Invisible: being homeless, sleeping in a car, youth who's parents have passed away, moving around from house to house, living a double life, being looked at like if they are nobody, and being embarrassed to talk about emotions.
Here are some things that made our youth feel Invincible: writing music material, going to the gym, working hard, singing, dancing, drawing, playing football, pursuing educational goals, telling jokes, making others laugh, and video games. We showed them the film to see that every situation is different but that they can all move forward and succeed in life. As hard as life can be there are people out here who care and are willing to put in that extra time to help them go From #Invisible2Invincible when they are ready.We also wanted to know what they got out of watching the film so here is what some of our youth said: they realized they are not the only ones out there enduring hardship, that they will keep pushing, that homeless youth are misunderstood, that it helped to here the stories of other youth who have been in similar situations as them, and that even if things are tough there are people who care to help them out. This is why we need your support on our movement to help us give these youth new opportunities to succeed in life. To help them achieve there goals and dreams so that they can one day help us make the world a better place for the youth of the future. So please help us out and vote for our campaign Invisible To Invincible we would greatly appreciate it.
#Jovenes #LA2050 #Invisible2Invincible

by david.torres.798
over 1 year ago

Jovenes will always be a home for homeless youth and a leader in our community. I am proud of the Invisible to Invincible Campaign for addressing this overlooked issue. -Fr. Richard Estrada

by placita1
over 1 year ago

Jovenes Inc. is an amazing, compassionate, and worthwhile organization to support! Invisible to invincible... let's make this happen!

by marlene.stang
over 1 year ago

People should vote for Jovenes in this competition because I am proof of what it means to go from Invisible to Invincible. Jovenes accepted me as a young homeless immigrant. When I first got to Jovenes, I was afraid that they wouldn't welcome me and that I could get deported. But they accepted me, and since then I've accomplished a lot. I'm in school, have a job, and am living on my own.

Jovenes gave me a a chance and lot of reasons to improve my life, and helps many others like me. It's hard for homeless youth to get out of drugs and find jobs and live on their own. The staff from Jovenes found me outside a home depot and offered help. Since I came to Jovenes in 2009, I quit using drugs and have been able to share my passions of being an actor and a singer. Jovenes pushed me in the right way and I'm so proud of what I've been able to accomplish.

by lorenzo.tambriz
over 1 year ago

When i first arrived at Jovenes Inc. i didn't have anything. I was lost in this world with no support from family or anyone. My first couple of days at Jovenes i was scared, never had i been in a shelter before. I did not know what to do or how to get my life back on the right track. Little by little the staff would reach out to me and talk to me about the things i wanted to do with my life. They wanted to help me reach for my dreams, they didn't just accept me in their shelter just because that is their job to provide me with a temporary bed. They took me in because they wanted to know who i really was. They wanted to help me finish school and see me graduate so that i can go on to college to succeed in life. They put their time, effort, and believed in me that i can do what i want. If it were not for their help i would not be where i am today, Living in my own apartment, going to school, and working. They showed me how to be responsible, how to become a leader, and most importantly how to succeed. So i believe that the "Invisible To Invincible" campaign deserves to win the LA2050 competition because with that money Jovenes can continue to open more doors for youth like me who deserve to succeed in life, who deserve the type of support and love that i received from the staff at Jovenes Inc. Jovenes has gone above and beyond for me and i know they are will to do the same for every youth that comes into their program. Thank You Jovenes and continue your great work helping out homeless youth because they need people like you guys... #invisible2invincible #jovenes #LA2050

by david.torres.798
over 1 year ago

Jovenes Inc. provided a home for me in a moment I needed the most. I will be forever grateful to this non-profit for their commitment to my wellness and that of the many dozens of youth they see day in and day out. Their approach is comprehensive not only target housing, but job training, physical and mental wellness. If they are awarded this grant; I know that Jovenes Inc. would be better equipped to impact the lives of youth, families, and our communities.

by Igari
over 1 year ago

First, I'd like to thank all the staff at jovenes! For all the hard work and effort they put into putting an end to youth homelessness. There is a lot of work to be done and they have their fair share of headaches, stress and most importantly, hard work! Good job guys! I am proud to say that I am a Jovenes alumni and very thankful for that moment in time in my life where I had no one by my side but a handful of strangers in Boyle heights who helped me find myself and help me become a strong willed young man. Thank you guys!

by olielovesyou
over 1 year ago

When homeless youth go from #invisible2invincible, it produces amazing results like the 2014 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS of Street Soccer LA!

over 1 year ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014