LISC National

Community Progress Maker: LAEDC Propel L.A.

The Community Progress Makers fund is a $20 million, two-year initiative by the Citi Foundation to support high-impact community organizations that are driving economic opportunities in their communities. These 40 change agents are addressing a range of urban challenges in the U.S., from economic development and affordable housing to environmental sustainability and urban infrastructure. In addition to core operating grant support, Community Progress Makers have access to technical assistance from leading experts and are part of a learning cohort to share best practices. 

LISC LA was named part of the City Progress Makers cohort and joins organizations working in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington D.C. The Los Angeles cohort is made up of 7 dynamic organizations that are leading economic and housing inclusion initiatives across the County. LISC LA’s longtime partner Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) is also one of the forty winners of the Community Progress Makers fund. 

Founded in 1981, LAEDC is a nonprofit dedicated to the idea of a robust and inclusive economic ecosystem in the greater Los Angeles area. It believes in the potential of every citizen in Los Angeles County to contribute to the community, and is a champion of the profitable intersections possible between business, education, and government. To achieve this collective triumph, it recruits private industry to advance public interests, advocating a collaborative approach for sustainable and equitable economic prosperity. 

LAEDC used the support from Community Progress Makers to fuel the implementation of a four-year project called Propel L.A. This effort is structured around a Countywide Strategic Plan for Economic Development that marshals the power of LAEDC’s vast network of community enrichment resources to fight the growing income inequality in Los Angeles and its surrounding districts. 

Propel L.A. concentrates on long-term individual empowerment, and looks to “fill resource gaps” by improving the feedback loop between school initiatives, government reforms, and medical institutions. The interdisciplinary approach rests upon a bedrock of intensive research managed by LAEDC, which attempts to diagnose and devise solutions to the sociological barriers preventing lower-income residents from having prenatal-through-career success. Additionally, Propel L.A. focuses more on local job industry growth, and endeavors to promote “matchmaking” networks between independent financiers, talent developers, accounting firms, and other specialty advising services.   

LAEDC also created a pipeline to develop talent in aerospace and advanced transportation sectors. It launched a two-year program partnership with El Camino College, the South Bay Workforce Investment Board (WIB), and Los Angeles Valley College, to proactively recruit under-employed workers in the Pacoima/Northeast San Fernando Valley, and the Inglewood/Lennox area. These individuals receive access to short-term machine-tooling training in preparation for jobs in advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and other rising industries in transportation engineering.   

In addition, Propel L.A. encourages the development of industry clusters, or localized groups of businesses in related industries in underdeveloped communities. These groups consist of companies, suppliers, and service providers, all working in tandem to maintain a healthy chain of productivity, as well as attract corporate entities interested in “providing specialized training and education, information, research, and technical support.” This is intended to incentivize businesses to increasing hiring, thus increasing employment opportunities for lower-income workers. 

By harnessing the power of profitable industries, Propel L.A. is helping to generate a new wave of venture philanthropy, one that addresses current socioeconomic issues and forestalls the growing wealth gap in Los Angeles. This strategy is part of a philosophy of assisted empowerment, where multiple facets of society can come together to lift up the communities that need it the most. LISC LA is excited to see how Propel L.A. promotes employment and financial well-being for underserved communities often “out of the loop” of the business ecosystem, but who are also willing and ready to contribute to it. 


Miranda Rodriguez, Assistant Program Officer