LA2050 and Beyond: What the Goldhirsh Foundation Cares about Right Now

About a year ago, we introduced you to the Goldhirsh Foundation and its big local initiative, LA2050. As a quick recap, this is Bernard A. Goldhirsh’s foundation that’s run by his surviving son, Ben, founder of the GOOD worldwide media platform.

Related: Goldhirsh Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

For Goldhirsh, 2014 was a year of development, planning and goal-setting. Now, 2015 is the year to take action and put those goals into motion. On September 8, the 2015 My LA2050 Grants Challenge opens for submissions and up to ten new projects will be selected. The total award amount is expected to reach $1 million to $100,000 per grant. Proposals will be accepted through October 6.

These are the categories that LA2050 proposals will fall into:

  • Education
  • Environmental quality
  • Arts & cultural vitality
  • Income and employment
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Social connectedness
  • Public safety

Related: What Los Angeles Nonprofits Should Know about the Goldhirsh Foundation’s LA2050 Initiative

Since revamping its grantmaking strategy in 2012, the Goldhirsh Foundation has made waves in various sectors in Los Angeles and solidified its position as a prominent funder in the county. Among other things, Goldhirsh has been funding fellowships around town, including a new position at Los Angeles's Department of Transportation. Thanks to Goldhirsh’s contribution, Ashley Z. Hand will work as the new transportation technology strategist fellow to help Los Angeles residents better navigate the city with Wi-Fi equipped bus stops, ridesharing at LAX, and data sharing with the Waze app to cut commute times.

Transportation in Los Angeles is a big concern for the Goldhirsh Foundation. When Next City asked Goldhirsh’s Director of Community Innovation Shauna Nep what the biggest challenge facing cities today is, this is what she said:

I think right now, the biggest challenge headed our way is keeping public transit competitive. Millennials are choosing transit over car ownership for a number of reasons, which is great, but Uber is already changing that. How will the autonomous vehicle change cities? Will we be ready? We are working with the Mayor’s Office and LADOT to help Los Angeles — and other cities — get ahead of and work alongside tech and innovation so we can embrace it and make sure emerging technologies also make our cities healthier, stronger and more equitable.

In addition to transportation, Goldhirsh is also concerned about crime and public safety. A study commissioned by the Goldhirsh Foundation found that Los Angeles’ crime rates are decreasing as its immigrant populations are increasing. Approximately 35 percent of L.A. residents are not U.S.-born, and the city has seen crime rates go down faster than cities with lower immigrant populations. That's yet another factor that makes LA an attractive place put down roots and start things up. 

At April’s Los Angeles Community Impact (LACI) Spring Showcase, Nep described the five things that lead to innovation: necessity, hustle, storytelling, unusual suspects, and the reflective incubation period. LACI is a business student-run, pro-bono consulting group for nonprofits and small businesses, and it’s taken its lead from Goldhirsh to partner with similar organizations, like the Downtown Women’s Center and Green Dot Public Schools.

Alas, aside from LA2050, this is an invitation-only type of foundation that doesn’t welcome unsolicited proposals.

In other news, the Goldhirsh Foundation is hiring. At the time this post was written, the foundation was still taking applications for a social media and communications intern. Not surprisingly, this is the writing sample prompt: If you had $10,000 to improve LA, how would you use it? Interestingly, you can actually find all sorts of job postings around town on the LA2050 jobs page as well.

Learn more about the 2013 and 2014 LA2050 grantees and the new 2015 goals based on community outreach feedback on the organization’s website.