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Spring 2023 Project Spotlight: The Giving Spirit

Learn about how our consultants are conducting tactical research to understand the efficacy of TGS's programs and how to improve them to achieve higher impact in the Los Angeles Community.

Problem Statement

How can we improve upon and allocate human and physical capital to improve upon The Giving Spirit’s offerings, but more specifically, the Women’s & Girl’s Initiative and the LA Homeless Student Program?

About The Giving Spirit

The Giving Spirit provides both direct tangible aid and educates communities on how workable solutions informed by direct community engagement, powerful data, and our common humanity can alleviate and ultimately end homelessness leading the “first mile” of service to our unhoused. The first mile of care provides immediate, tangible aid to the unhoused by procuring, assembling, and directly serving them diverse and robust “survival kits” containing dozens of essential life-sustaining items.

Problem Description

How can we improve upon and allocate human and physical capital to improve upon The Giving Spirit’s offerings, but more specifically, the Women’s & Girl’s Initiative and the LA Homeless Student Program? Currently, the Giving Spirit has one robust initiative, which is their first mile of care. We were tasked with developing the two aforementioned initiatives, whether it was validating current items in each kit or researching additional items that would provide extra value to the The Giving Spirit.

Project Agenda & Objectives

Our project goal was to address The Giving Spirit's programs on a vertical-by-vertical basis. To target this problem specifically

  1. We engaged in market research within each demographic

  2. Then, we compared our research to TGS's current offerings.

  3. After that, we looked at strategic partnerships for TGS to reduce costs and explore safer delivery solutions, and did this through competitive analysis and partnership outreach.

  4. Lastly, we looked at specific kit offerings and determined the effectiveness of each, either validating current offerings or suggesting new kit additions.

1) Program Enhancement, In More Depth

Our first workstream leading up to midsemester focused mainly on the first mile of care, which is The Giving Spirit's main program. As part of our research, we investigated the items typically associated with summer and warm weather survival kits and analyzed ways to minimize costs for each item. Alongside this, we examined the homeless problem in LA County, with a specific focus on TGS's operations, which encompassed Skid Row to Santa Monica. We utilized resources such as GSI maps to identify potential hotspots and gathered statistical data on the growth of homelessness in the region. Moreover, we also examined winter weather items and identified methods to reduce costs for each item in the survival kit. Since winter weather typically entails harsher conditions, the research concentrated on items such as blankets and weather protection materials, which can be costly. Additionally, TGS utilized volunteers for their outreach programs, so we studied ways to enhance volunteer retention and communication through social media, newsletters, and other methods.

2) Research on Kits, In More Depth

In our study, we concentrated on two specific subgroups of the homeless population in Los Angeles: homeless students and homeless youth, which The Giving Spirit (TGS) has not yet targeted. Recent research indicates a surge in COVID-induced Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) cases, and we hypothesize that homeless youth may suffer from exacerbated versions of this condition. Furthermore, we investigated potential learning disorders within this population and examined the disparities in educational experiences they face compared to their peers. To determine the extent to which TGS's educational kits can mitigate these issues, we assessed the effectiveness of their existing offerings. Our aim was to validate TGS's approach by understanding how their kits address the unique challenges faced by homeless students and youth, particularly those with learning disorders or COVID-induced ADD. Through this evaluation, we hope to provide valuable insights and recommendations for TGS to better serve these vulnerable subgroups and ultimately contribute to bridging the educational gap faced by homeless students and youth in Los Angeles.

3) Utility for Demographics, In More Depth

Our study aims to bring attention to two underrepresented demographics within women's homelessness, as supported by existing literature. We focused on two understudied groups, namely black women and their experience and women who are vulnerable to both physical and sexual violence and focused on specific items and experiences that would increase their QoL for a substantial period of time. To evaluate the relevance of The Giving Spirit's (TGS) kits, we will assess the materials provided and validate their utility for these specific demographics. Additionally, we will identify potential improvements or additions to enhance the kits' effectiveness in addressing the unique needs of these groups.This comprehensive approach will not only highlight the often-overlooked issues faced by these demographics but also offer practical solutions to better support women and children experiencing homelessness. Specifically, our case study research, in which we utilized the Downtown Women's Center as an example, allowed us to create a digitized solution for The Giving Spirit to streamline donations.

The Impact of 180DC's Work

We expect our will be implemented by the Giving Spirit through updating their kits to reflect these current demographics and ongoing niches of women's and youth homelessness. As a result, the expected impact of our recommendations is that TGS will widen their reach by becoming more inclusive to black women, vulnerable women, and youth that face mental health problems. Additionally, we expect the Giving Spirit to tailor their educational experience, the "first mile of learning," to the demographics that we've focused on through updating their existing kit offerings and introducing new guest speakers that provide new and inclusive perspectives.


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