Watts Leadership Institute Watts Leadership Institute

Watts Leadership Institute

A ten-year initiative of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, the Watts Leadership Institute (WLI) 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

UCLA social welfare professor Jorja Leap and project partner Karrah Lompa founded and oversee the Watts Leadership Institute, an initiative of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. In recognition of the Watts community as a hub for nonprofits and community-based leaders, WLI was created to provide active, 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 its training in 2016. In 2020, WLI selected a new group of individuals and organizations to serve as the second cohort. Through this structure, the first cohort passes on its knowledge and skills to the second 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