Kids In The Spotlight (KITS)
Bridging the Gap
Founded by a Black woman in 2009, KITS empowers foster youth to heal from trauma through the arts. Now, KITS is launching a Production Studio for a Cause to change the current trajectory of youth in foster care by increasing career readiness, social capital & personal wellness. Operating as a social enterprise, KITS will use the tools & labor income of the entertainment industry to provide racial & economic equity to LA’s most underserved youth through workplace training in – & the artistic outlet of – filmmaking & other creative industries.
Describe the mission of your organization.
Our mission is to help foster youth confront, address, and overcome rejection and trauma through transformative storytelling and filmmaking—providing them with the support and skills needed to pursue higher education, gain employment, and become stable and productive members of society.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
- South Bay
- Antelope Valley
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
The foster care system is a pipeline feeding the prison system, homeless population, unemployment, and our country’s mental health epidemic. Over 35,000 foster youth live in LA County, 40% of whom end up in jail, homeless or dead within 3 years of aging out of the system. Only 55% graduated high school in 2020 (compared to a rate of 87% by their peers), less than 4% earn a college degree by age 25, and almost half are unemployed 8 years after leaving foster care. Even the most unconscionable data – 90% of youth with 5+ placements will enter the justice system, and foster youth are 3-5 times more likely to commit suicide than same-age peers – showcase the disservice done to those in the child welfare system. These figures represent LA’s foster youth and who they will become without keen intervention to combat their debilitating trauma. Unaddressed, it leads to a range of psychological and emotional challenges negatively impacting their growth, life skills & coping skills.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
KITS will create & launch the first-ever Production Studio for a Cause [PSFAC] designed for foster youth, ages 18-24. As the entertainment industry is responsible for over 640,500 jobs in LA County, resulting in over $58.8 billion in labor income, it is here where 8.4% of LA’s estimated annual gross will be used as a catalyst for systemic change in foster care outcomes. The PSFAC will operate 7 days a week as an innovative learning, vocational & social enterprise facility for transitional age youth to have an artistic outlet. The PSFAC is a safe place where youth have continuous access to the arts to generate content while being gainfully employed – providing a creative space to heal, create animated & live-action content, and learn the intricate details of business management, technology, film equipment, budgeting & behavior therapy – through the art of filmmaking. Clients like DCFS will hire our youth to create PSAs & other content. Industry professionals will also pay it forward by renting one or more of the 15-20 production sets to create their motion pictures, episodic shows & other media content for TV & film projects while hiring our youth, identified as young professionals [YP], to work on their projects. We are ultimately bridging the gap between 2 major entities impacting our local economy. The PSFAC will be the intersection of arts, technology & wellness for present & former foster youth, redirecting the trajectory from adversity [as stated in Q7] to achievement.
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.
Our intended impact will be evident in LA County as we change the negative trajectory of low-socioeconomic & underrepresented youth by giving them the skills to retain employment, achieve their goals, and become leaders in their communities. The LA2050 grant will be used to create a detailed design model, market analysis, data analysis & an implementation strategy to launch the studio. With the labor income produced by the entertainment industry annually, our PSFAC will serve long-term as a launch pad for our YPs to earn an income while gaining production & business experience in the industry, as youth get hands-on sector-based job training from the industry professionals who will be renting the space. It will also serve as a space to create, write, & film personal projects. The studio will provide racial & cultural equity to foster youth most often overlooked by society, ending traditional outcomes of job insecurity, food insecurity & homelessness among aged-out foster youth.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
The PSFAC was first envisioned by KITS, after serving various group homes in LA County. As KITS connected with youth who were in agencies for several years, with the uncertainty & instability of the system, and every upheaval of a new placement &/or school, it was clear; they needed real opportunities to not just prepare for aging out, but to be empowered to be self-sufficient as they did. By building industry partnerships, KITS was able to provide youth paid internships, scholarships to screenwriting programs & production jobs, preparing us for this next step. Our metrics to evaluate outcomes of the PSFAC include collecting “Wrap Recaps” from industry clients & teaching team members at the wrap of every project recording YP progress, as well as pre- & post-surveys from YPs & industry professionals to assess gains in job skills, planning, self-control, social awareness, focus & adaptability. We will verify success by YP growth in social capital [life/coping skills] & personal wellness.
Which of the create metrics will you impact?
- Employment in the creative industries
- Income inequality
- Minority- and women-owned businesses
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
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The Create Beat celebrates the creative genius of Southern California by highlighting the artists who make Los Angeles the home of the extraordinary. The program deliberately moves beyond mainstream arts institutions to engage with the creative and revolutionary humans living in our neighborhoods who make a profound and tangible impact. Through authentic, intimate stories of local changemakers, the Create Beat redefines what art and culture means in LA by proving that these spaces can be more accessible, relatable, and community-centered.