The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

LA2050 Newsletter

Finalist in Email & Newsletter


LA2050 is a community-engaged grantmaking program that distributes $1+ million in grants each year based on input from Angelenos. LA2050 has been at the forefront of participatory grantmaking for a decade, with its 11th yearly Grants Challenge upcoming in 2024. Each year, LA2050 involves the public to dictate where its grants will be distributed in an effort to fund the projects that have the most community support. 

In order to do this, we need direct channels to communicate with our community. This is achieved primarily through our bi-weekly newsletter where we provide information about the Grants Challenge, seek Angelenos’ input in our grantmaking process, and provide resources such as social impact job openings, financial capital opportunities, and local events.

Each year, after the public votes in the Grants Challenge, they are prompted to sign up for our newsletter. This way, we know that our subscribers are already primed to care about their communities. Year after year, as we add more Angelenos to our email list, we gain more voters for the Grants Challenge. By having more voters, we are able to conduct our grantmaking to better fit the concerts of the public.


Strategy and Execution

Many of our newsletter subscribers join our email list when voting in our yearly Grants Challenge, but they stay because of the valuable, socially impact-oriented, community-focused content and information in each newsletter. Useful information, accompanied by original design work, brings a welcoming email to their inbox twice a month. With this strategy, we have been able to grow our audience and continue to increase our open rate far beyond industry standards. 

We have increased our open rate by providing resources for our subscribers. For example, each newsletter contains local job opportunities focused on social impact work, as well as financial capital opportunities and local, free or affordable event listings, often sourced from our grantees. 

Another resource that we provide for our newsletter subscribers is our recurring “Fave Five” segment. Each newsletter features the social impact leader of a nonprofit organization or a social entrepreneur describing their five favorite places and spaces across Los Angeles, in alignment with our five organizational goal categories of live, learn, play, create, and connect. Our community learns more about essential 

organizations, plus receives trusted recommendations for parks, restaurants, weekend activities, and more. 

Along with these resources, each newsletter is centered around an anchor piece of original content. Some weeks, this means an exclusive Q&A with a leader in a field such as social innovation. Other times, an original video, including our popular “Join The Movement” short documentary featuring a trio of our past grantees.

Other times, the anchor content is related to the LA2050 Grants Challenge – for example, encouraging people to vote for the issues that matter most to them, such as homelessness and affordable housing, green spaces, or LGBTQ+ inclusion. Other examples include a humorous “get out the vote” video starring the actor, writer, producer, and director Andrea Savage, and a series of original artworks showcasing iconic locations in the LA area, where we and community partners set up pop-up “voting booths.” 

Once we know our top-voted issue areas, our newsletter becomes a vessel to encourage nonprofits and social impact organizations to apply for funding. Once the Grants Challenge voting and analysis periods conclude, our newsletter subscribers get to see their votes translated into action as we announce the winners. This way, Angelenos get to see the projects that are funded in their communities and directly impacted by their votes, all powered by our newsletter. 

When the Grants Challenge is off-season, we still blend news, information, and creativity in the newsletters. See our Social Impact Gift Guide, for instance. We even devoted a VaLAntine’s Day (pun intended!) edition to some original pun-filled downloadable cards, in partnership with culture, news, and audio behemoth KCRW. And, for the city of LA’s birthday, we asked consul generals and honorary consuls from around the world to let us know what ideas from their home nations should come here.




During the 2023 LA2050 Grants Challenge, more than 12,000 people voted for 80,000 issues that matter to them. (Multiple votes per person are allowed in various categories.) That is a 50% increase from the 8,000 or so people the previous year. The newsletter alone brought in more than one out of every five votes.

We also utilize the newsletter to invite nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and government agencies to submit their ideas to make a better Los Angeles County, after the public selects which issues matter most. We received a record 615 resulting grantee applications – nearly double the total from just two years prior and an enormous increase from 2022. 

Using data analytics, we have been able to create a newsletter that people look forward to reading instead of instantly deleting from their inboxes. This is demonstrated through the high open rate for our newsletter, which for the year averaged 53% – and most weeks is in the 54%-59% range – vastly exceeding nonprofit sector industry standards. In the past three years, we have more than doubled our average open rate, showcasing our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what our community is looking for in their inboxes.

We also were thrilled that the newsletter received national notice last year, when the Shorty Awards named it a winner. We are a small team with five full-time employees; we have worked to maintain and raise our newsletter standards further since then.



Video for LA2050 Newsletter

Entrant Company / Organization Name



Entry Credits