SLATE-Z serves as the backbone entity for the federally designated South LA Promise Zone and thrives on a strong cross-sector public-private partnership between residents, businesses, educational institutions, governmental entities, and community-based organizations to develop pilot programs and policy solutions that foster transformational change.

Origin Story

With the development of the Metro Crenshaw “K” line, the South Los Angeles community saw an opportunity to examine and harness the economic impacts green infrastructure would bring to the region and decided to work together with the purpose of gaining Federal Promise Zone designation for South Los Angeles.

Founded in 2014, the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z) is a place-based, collective impact effort with around 100 public/private partners focused on innovation and developing solutions.

In June 2016, President Barack Obama recognized SLATE-Z’s efforts and federally designated its area of South Los Angeles as a Promise Zone (i.e., the South Los Angeles Promise Zone). SLATE-Z serves as the backbone entity for the South Los Angeles Promise Zone and is 1 of 22 Promise Zones addressing high poverty in select urban, rural, and tribal communities across the nation.

Housed at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), SLATE-Z operations team provides strategic leadership and works to coordinate and convene local partners to address transit access, small business and entrepreneurship support, educational opportunities, and public safety in South Los Angeles.

Levers of Change

As a collective impact organization, we know economic resilience can only be built with authentic, meaningful community engagement. We have seen that impactful initiatives and projects come from and are implemented in partnership with the community. SLATE-Z works with around 100 cross-sector partners focused on developing innovative and collaborative solutions that can be expanded to other parts of the region, state, and nation. We do this by embodying the traditional principles of collective impact: convening our partners on a regular basis, having open and continuous communication among partners, a common agenda, and shared measurements.

At SLATE-Z, our work lives at the intersection of economic revitalization and environmental sustainability with five “Levers of Change”, shown below. SLATE-Z leads this effort through five working groups to improve the quality of life for South Los Angeles residents. Our Workgroup Model ensures community participation and collaboration throughout all aspects of our work, focused on our five levers of change.


Increase student attainment of certificates, degrees, and preparation for careers by guaranteeing post-secondary career pathway enrollment and support


Move South Los Angeles residents into 10,000 living wage jobs

public safety

Reduce violent crime by improving services for youth leadership development, gang-intervention, support for youth and adults re-entering the community from incarceration, and community engagement

Small business & entrepreneurship

Increase small business and entrepreneurship by investing in businesses, entrepreneurs, and community-oriented infrastructure


Improve community infrastructure by increasing the affordability, safety, and use of current and emerging public mobility options

About the Area

The South Los Angeles Promise Zone is home to approximately 234,000 residents in a five-mile area that sits at the heart of South Los Angeles. Bounded by LA Metro’s K, E, and A transit lines, SLATE-Z’s geographic area constitutes just under 6% of the total population of the City of Los Angeles.

While this is an area with great economic need, it is rich in history and neighborhood assets. With 72% of the area’s residents identify as Latinx and 14% of the identify as Black/African-American, the South Los Angeles Promise Zone is a diverse and vibrant community recognized for its culture.

Political Geographies



This project, which is ongoing and iterative, was developed through a partnership between SLATE-Z and USC’s Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC). It was made possible through countless hours of work by a group of dedicated and passionate individuals, whose roles are shared below: 

Vision & Leadership

Zahirah Mann, SLATE-Z

Caroline Bhalla, USC

Project Leads

Elly Schoen, USC

Sulma Hernández, SLATE-Z

Ruth McCormack , SLATE-Z


Michael DiazSLATE-Z

Cameron Yap, USC

Stephanie Ramirez, SLATE-Z


Christopher Davis, USC

Stephanie Liem, USC

Data & Content

Elly Schoen, USC

Cameron Yap, USC

Sulma Hernández, SLATE-Z

NDSC would also like to thank all of the Graduate Research Assistants who supported this work, including: Kyra Chan, Jiyoon Kim, Stephanie Liem, Gabriela Magaña, Nicole Ouyang, Debarun Sarbabidya, & Claire Zhang.

Finally, we are grateful to the SLATE-Z working group co-chairs who offered their time and thoughtful feedback throughout the development of the project. 


Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) recognizes that applying a racial equity lens to its work includes acknowledging that Los Angeles County is home to Native Nations on whose land we are living. As an initial step in grappling with what it means to live and work on land that was violently stolen from Native Nations by European settlers, USC Price Center for Social Innovation staff developed a statement acknowledging the Nations who are the traditional caretakers of the land in Los Angeles County. The statement, shared below, is an acknowledgement of the ways that violence and racism has shaped (and continues to shape) the places we are permitted to call home. It is a starting point for continued conversations, partnerships, projects and activities around decolonization and supporting Native self-determination.

NDSC acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands), and we acknowledge our presence on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Chumash, Kizh, and Tataviam nations. We recognize and are committed to lifting up their stories, culture, and community. We pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders), and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present, and emerging.