Disrupt the Desert: Reduce Poverty by Accelerating Social Innovation in South LA

submission by SReid_SoACT

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

Social Action Partners (SoACT)

Organization(s) website(s):


Organization(s) twitter handle(s):


Organization(s) facebook handle(s):


Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

For-profit organization


Other (please specify below):

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


Social Action Partners (SoACT) strengthens non-profit and community based organizations in low-income communities by partnering with them to provide technical assistance and capacity building that is culturally responsive, relevant, and respectful.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


We propose a social innovation accelerator where design thinking meets social justice, on its home turf, to disrupt the patterns of disinvestment that have made So. LA into a human services non-profit desert. Cross-sector teams composed of local service providers, designers, and strategists will participate in an innovative, multi-modal series of events including 3 leadership development workshops, a 2.5 day design sprint, and a 1 day symposium on how to amplify the impact of So. LA nonprofits.

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 Valley

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):

Los Angeles SouthWest College

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 “Live” metrics? (check all that apply)

Access to healthy food

Healthcare access

Exposure to air toxins

Number of households below the self-sufficiency index

Percent of imported water

Obesity rates

Housing affordability

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Rates of mental illness

Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (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)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the healthiest place to live.


According to the study “Spread Thin: Human Services Organizations in Poor Neighborhoods” based on research conducted at the USC Luskin School, Neighborhoods with a high concentration of poor residents have a much lower density of nonprofit human services organizations. The lack of established nonprofit / community-based organizations (CBOs) has made many neighborhoods in South LA into “human services deserts” (or non-profit deserts). This means that residents in these poor neighborhoods, who are increasingly dependent on CBOs to access needed services, have the most need but the least access to basic services, which adversely affect the social and psychological well-being of residents in the neighborhood. They found that CBOs in predominately African American neighborhoods have a higher rate of closure, not because of a lack of capacity building activities per se, but due to the lack of resources to adopt and implement changes needed.

Our response: unleash new solutions by “hacking” the most acute problems faced by these organizations, while investing in the capacity of local organizational leaders. We propose to do this by piloting a social innovation accelerator that pairs non-profits based in South LA with entrepreneurs from other fields, namely business, tech, design, and strategy to encourage lateral thinking and spawn creative solutions that not only strengthen their existing infrastructure, but also boost their growth by imparting a new model for problem-solving and skill building. Cross-sector teams composed of local service providers, designers, and strategists will participate in an innovative, multi-modal series of events including 3 leadership development workshops, a 2.5 day design sprint, and a 1 day symposium on how to amplify the impact of So. LA nonprofits.
The workshops will combine the power of storytelling with other immersive experiences such as site visits to build empathy, trust, cultural competence, and connectedness across teams in advance of the design sprint. The sprint itself will focus on the elements of design – empathy, patterns, divergence, prototyping, and validation – in a compressed format, so as to spawn innovative solutions to real problems in an intensive, yet efficient way. Having uncovered the real human needs to be addressed by engaging community members directly, the symposium will then surface key lessons and opportunities involve community members in the process of determining the path forward.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


By the success of the events and increased effectiveness of partners.

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):

1 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

*****CORRECTION: Research was conducted by the UCLA Luskin School not USC*****

by SReid_SoACT
6 months ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

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

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Voting Began
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015