Photo Courtesy of Marty Cotwright
A proud moment during ‘Saving Our Sons: A Community Conversation’ (l-r) Robert Lewis, Program Officer, California Community Foundation (CCF); George Weaver, Special Program Administrator, Brotherhood Crusade; Lazzarius Taylor, Brotherhood Crusade mentee and BLOOMer; Nike Irvin, VP, Programs, CCF; actor and activist Larenz Tate
LOS ANGELES - California Community Foundation (CCF), the public foundation for Los Angeles County, officially announced a five-year, multi-million dollar investment in the future of Black male youth, in partnership with several private foundations and local, nonprofit organizations. BLOOM, which stands for Building a Lifetime of Opportunities and Options for Men, is redirecting Black male teens, who are or have been in the county probation system, away from adult incarceration and toward a path of educational and employment opportunities, thus significantly improving their chances of success as adults while reducing the costs and consequences of juvenile and adult incarceration to California taxpayers.
BLOOM was announced during a town hall for the community where actor and activist, Larenza Tate, was introduced as the spokesperson for the initiative.
Key facts on Black youth:
- Black youth comprise one in 10 teens in Los Angeles, but approximately one in three youth under the supervision of the county probation department.
- Black youth are 11 times more likely than their white counterparts to be placed under the county’s probation jurisdiction.
- Black youth have a juvenile felony arrest rate 16 times greater than that of white youth.
- The homicide rate among Black males is 13 times greater than white males.
- The cost to taxpayers to incarcerate a youth in an L.A. County probation camp is approximately $100,000 per year, and to house an inmate in state prison is $240,000 per year.
- In 2011, 33 percent of youth under county probation supervision were Black males.
- In 2011, only 15 percent of students in L.A. community colleges were Black males.
The seed for BLOOM was planted in 2010 when the leadership of CCF asked if there was a role for philanthropy in addressing these realities. CCF formed an advisory committee of more than 20 diverse members of the community, conducted and evaluated research, held numerous formal and informal conversations in the community, and concluded that an ambitious and hard-hitting initiative should indeed be undertaken. It was determined that the initiative should focus on expanding educational and employment opportunities for Black males 14-18 years of age currently or recently under county probation supervision, and living in South Los Angeles.
“BLOOM is the only philanthropic initiative in the nation, we believe, wholly dedicated to Black male youth involved in the justice system,” said Antonia Hernández, president and CEO of the California Community Foundation. “Because of the magnitude and seriousness of the initiative, we have formed a public-private-nonprofit partnership in Los Angeles to ensure its success.”
“BLOOM is new and bold, and it’s overdue,” added Carl Ballton, chair of the community advisory committee, as well as president of the Union Bank Foundation. “The initiative aims to begin improving education and job options – normal opportunities for most L.A. residents – for one of the most vulnerable, misunderstood and underachieving segments of residents: Black teenage boys who have had a run-in with the legal system.”
Funding, job opportunities and other support for Black male youth through the BLOOM nonprofit partners are being contributed by private sector partners such as the Automobile Club of Southern California, Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation, Operation HOPE, The James Irvine Foundation and Union Bank Foundation.
BLOOM will address four areas:
- Job and educational programs so that Black male youth are exposed to new and interesting vocational and educational paths, in partnership with public, private and nonprofit organizations;
- Assistance through grants, technical and other support for community-based organizations serving them;
- Communications to foster a more positive environment in which Black male youth are respected, encouraged and treated as potential assets in the community; and
- Advocacy to address unfair practices that result in long-term encounters with the criminal justice system.
Several community-based profit organizations already serving Black male teens in South Los Angeles have been selected as the first recipients of two-year grants through the BLOOM Initiative, including Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, Community Coalition, Los Angeles Urban League, Youth Justice Coalition and Youth Mentoring Connection.
Also involved in BLOOM are the Liberty Hill Foundation, which will provide technical assistance and capacity building programming to the nonprofits, and the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, which will monitor and evaluate the BLOOM Initiative throughout its duration. Like the BLOOM facebook page at www.facebook.com/BLOOM.CCF to receive updated information on BLOOM and positive Black news.
California Community Foundation (CCF) is a public, charitable organization serving Los Angeles County since 1915. It encourages philanthropy by individuals, families, companies and organizations, and serves as a steward of their charitable funds and legacies. It also makes grants to nonprofits and collaborates in addressing the needs of vulnerable members of the community. In addition, it engages in community problem solving with business, civic, government and other organizations. For more information, visit www.calfund.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/calfund.