Watts Leadership Institute Watts Leadership Institute

Watts Leadership Institute

This ten-year initiative of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs uses an innovative cohort-based model to develop and promote capacity building among grassroots organizations and leaders in Watts.

Nourishing Community-Based Leadership

Watts Leadership Institute

Recognizing that the Watts community had become a hub for nonprofits and community-based leaders, Jorja Leap and Karrah Lompa of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare founded the Watts Leadership Institute (WLI) in 2016 to provide ongoing support and education around capacity building, specifically focusing on fundraising diversification and strategy, board leadership, and organizational technical assistance. In this way, WLI works to maximize the impact that community leaders and organizations can have in this historic community. 

WLI utilizes a cohort model focused on sustainability and independence. The original WLI cohort, which included six organizations, began training in 2016. In 2020, a new group of individuals and organizations was tapped to become the second cohort, and a third cohort launched in 2023. Through this structure, each cohort passes on its knowledge and skills to the next cohort, and this capacity-building will continue to spread throughout the Watts community in a self-sustaining way over time.

GRoW Support



holiday programming


General Operating Support

Holiday Programming


general operating support

holiday programming


COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Response

Holiday Programming



Programmatic Support - Cohort Board Development


Programmatic Support - GRoW Community Garden

Event - WLI Dinner at the Annenberg Community Beach House

Event - Black Panther Screening at the Aero Theatre with American Cinematheque




Programmatic Support – GRoW Community Garden 

Watts Leadership Institute

GRoW @ Annenberg Community Garden

Black Panther Screening & WLI Summer Celebration