Urban Futures Lab: Reimagining LA’s Civic and Creative Capital

submission by mblock

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

Public Matters

Organization(s) website(s):


Organization(s) twitter handle(s):


Organization(s) facebook handle(s):


Organization(s) instagram handle(s):


Please share the direct link for voters to sign up for your newsletter(s):


Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

For-profit organization


Other (please specify below):


Social enterprise

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


Public Matters is a social enterprise—made up of artists, educators, media experts, cultural planners and Fellows—that designs and implements long-term, place-based, art, media, education, and civic engagement projects that advance social change.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


Urban Futures Lab is a multi-year fellowship training, mentorship and employment program for young adults (18-26) from low-income communities of color in LA. Fellows are trained as interdisciplinary creative community problem solvers and future civic leaders as they work on projects to strengthen LA neighborhoods. Fellows develop career and community-building skills and networks through projects addressing arts, culture and equitable development, community health, and neighborhood identity.

Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


#UrbanFuturesLab – Fellowships for LA's future creative and civic #leaders w/@LA2050 #access #equity

Where will you be working? Please be specific (e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County).

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valey

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles (countywide)

City of Los Angeles (citywide)


Other (please specify below):

e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County:

Pilipino Workers Center; Historic Filipinotown; LA County. Elysian Valley; LA County. East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy; East Los Angeles; LA County.

How do you plan to use these resources to make change? (check all that apply)

Conduct research

Engage residents and stakeholders

Implement a pilot or new project

Expand a pilot or program

Mobilize for systems change

Advocate with policymakers and leaders

Implement and track policy

Other (please specify below):

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics? (check all that apply)

Employment in the creative industries

Arts establishments per capita

Concentration of manufacturing activity in LA

Federal research grant funding

Patents per capita

Jobs per capita

Minority- and women-owned firms

Gini coefficient

Number of high growth startups

Venture capital investment

Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)

Recruiting and retention rates for local higher education institutions (Dream Metric)

Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)

Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.


Urban Futures Lab creates work that matters. It reimagines Los Angeles’ civic and creative capital by altering how young adults from under-resourced communities of color access opportunities that employ their inventiveness and support their professional aspirations. The Lab provides young adult Fellows with career-building skills that simultaneously strengthen the region through work of social consequence. It prepares Fellows to pursue higher-earning professions that require varied skill sets through direct work on Public Matters projects. Unlike conventional service learning or workforce development programs that focus on “the job, ” the Lab focuses on Fellows’ career arcs.

Young adults have the financial imperative to work, the desire to pursue meaningful work, but lack outlets, professional networks, or structure. Often, those pursuing higher education don’t have access to paid civic opportunities. Most young adults lack the on-going mentorship and support essential for their educational and professional growth. For those who desire to work in cross-disciplinary fields or create their own jobs, the challenges are even greater. They are even more formidable for young adults from resource-poor LA neighborhoods.

Through Urban Futures Lab, Public Matters senior staff act as project leaders and mentors, guiding Fellows’ work in LA neighborhoods. Fellows work in project-based teams, interacting with Public Matters’ vast network of multi-sector partners and collaborators.

Urban Futures Lab Fellows are paid living wages to use creative, visual and critical thinking skills in neighborhood-based projects. Fellows participate in regular expert-led workshops and trainings. Concentrated summer labs and retreats add in-depth learning. Fellows gain career and life skills that include:

• Project Conceptualization, Design, and Implementation
• Leadership and Communication
• Community Engagement and Relationship Building
• Public Speaking, Performances and Presentations
• Mentoring
• Creative Skills (including Media Production, Social Marketing + Design)
• Personal and Community Health
• Cultural and Economic Development

Anticipated projects include Hidden Hi Fi, an arts and cultural economic development project in Historic Filipinotown; an urban planning and design project with East LA high school students; assisting the LA Kitchen to develop a line of healthy, affordable snacks; and Market Makeovers that address healthy food access.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


We will evaluate two tracks: Fellows’ learning/career development and Fellows’ impact on LA neighborhoods.

We will evaluate learning/career development at various points during a Fellows’ tenure through metrics including: contribution to projects; quality of work; partner/client feedback. We will gauge written, verbal and visual communication skills, time management, project implementation and capacity for independent work. Fellows will maintain a portfolio with client references and their own reflections, allowing us to track their progress.

To assess Public Matters and Fellows’ impact on neighborhoods, we will use evaluation methods that track their contributions as part of Public Matters’ projects. In general, we employ mixed-methods evaluations – quantitative (surveys) and qualitative data (structured interviews and direct observation). Fellows will participate as both subjects and participants in our research, and thereby expand their own research skill set.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed? (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

Other (please specify below):

13 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

Excellent group with very effective projects.

by kimabeles
5 months ago

Hooray for Public Matters and Urban Futures Lab!!

by jkwofford
5 months ago

Public Matters is fantastic--their commitment to a deeply collaborative community process is phenomenal, and they are now influencing and educating other organizations and communities on how to do similar work!

by stroop
5 months ago

This is an incredible org with amazing leaders!

by Maurna
5 months ago

My daughter has worked with Public Matters for many years! Keep doing amazing work and thank you for everything!

by fids
5 months ago

Hi all, my name is Clara Mejia, I am a third year at Georgetown University. I am an undocumented student activist who advocates for immigrant and worker rights both on and off campus. The work I do now is the result of the skills I built from the work I did back home in East LA mainly through Public Matters.
They mean so much to me and many other students who have worked with them. Mike and Reanne are incredible and Urban Futures Lab sounds like an amazing project. The project that I did during my time with them truly framed how I approach the work I do. From public speaking to approaching my activism through and artistic lens; Public Matters gave me the means to develop my ideas in an innovative and creative way.
I know that this new project will inspire many other students like me, who live in the LA area and want to make a difference, so please support and vote for Urban Futures Lab.
Can't wait to see all the amazing work that will come out of the Urban Future Lab!

by Jackycamo
5 months ago

The possibilities with a program such as this one are unmeasurable. This can truly create something that can benefit cities across the United States!

by vargasomar
5 months ago

I have been extremely lucky to have worked with Public Matters as a former student and currently a fellow!

Public Matters does AMAZING comprehensive community work and is working in cultivating and activating young minds!!

by xansanz
5 months ago

Vote cast! Your project is truly inspiring and deserves to win! Good luck to you all.

by lydjam
6 months ago

Such an amazing experience for young emerging leaders in under deserved communities. Good luck Public Matters!!! I'm rooting for you! :D

by karina.pulido.56
6 months ago

This project is in alignment with my values.

by ShelleyAmdur
6 months ago

You have my vote! Good luck!!!

by 90maggs
6 months ago

This is an amazing opportunity and a great program! Good luck Urban Futures Lab!

by aldhc
6 months ago

Pink ribbon award box icon 45b87e779c93f5099a48378c2aadc0fcd51184974daecf76e3f5c50034ea21fb
Award topvotedidea 5a5ae14e3d56a10363ea2a398cece46cf4df891213cbe68677c19d8903a1932a
Circle 1 inactive e7784182a1bd5eace578987db27fc19ec6337f418c48c6c8732605b9043d50d0 Step1 title submission inactive cde083e53089b973e7c9dc80a44a038c1ce4cf3b2650aeb5549157d1ed58a2d9

Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Submission Ended
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 2 inactive 74a43088831beb43fdbd7591ef5d50a5a7a26ff92c9e8ed489782459fa31a8d9 Step2 title voting inactive 96be722f53c417edddb5742ba9a6dc2fd403f7e4f6c19dbe883d50d20d93689d

Voting Began
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Voting Ended
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
at 08:00 PM UTC

Circle 3 83da7a9432aeea960e1a9e9ee93e7ea1221af6c8f42b27964f2e9999d94b2b8d Step3 title 3d9e2a65d6ea1ad301f8fc607f5f828bd96362932c71d81c0da5b1fd964422b0

Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015