Accelerating Economic Opportunity and Helping Young Men BLOOM
May 18, 2016
Ernest had seen too much by the time he turned 16. His family had been shattered by drug abuse, and now he was facing the justice system for the first time. “Friends I grew up with were going to prison for 15 or 20 years,” Ernest said. “I knew there had to be something else.” Today, The Community Progress Makers Fund, led by the Citi Foundation, announced a two-year, $500,000 grant to support California Community Foundation (CCF) programs like BLOOM, an L.A.-based initiative that’s helping Ernest and hundreds of other young men to transform their futures and succeed in school, work and life.
Black youth make up 10 percent of the L.A. County youth, yet they comprise approximately 30 percent of those under probation supervision. In South Los Angeles, they are twice as likely to be arrested and detained in juvenile hall than in any other area of L.A. Black men also have a 90 percent probability of incarceration if they drop out of high school, but a diploma reduces that to 12 percent. But With access to caring mentors and positive options, there’s no limit on what these young men can achieve. And when they succeed, all Angelenos benefit.
BLOOM (Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men), is a multimillion dollar initiative launched by CCF that seeks to create positive and productive futures for young Black men in South L.A. Since 2012, BLOOM has granted more than $2 million to serve more than 530 youth who are or have been on probation, moving them toward paths that lead to educational success and away from system-involvement. The program, which provides youth with mentorship and individually-tailored services from a network of partners to increase high school completion and build resilience, has been recognized by the White House as a possible model to be replicated across the country.
BLOOM youth commit to themselves, their families, and their community that they are ready and willing to embark on a journey toward academic and career success. To date, nearly 90 percent of the program’s participants have not re-offended or been suspended or expelled.
The Community Progress Makers Fund, led by the Citi Foundation, is a $20 million grant initiative that supports high-impact nonprofit organizations using innovative solutions to help catalyze economic opportunities for low-income communities across the United States. The California Community Foundation is one of 40 organizations selected to establish new approaches to long-standing urban economic challenges in the United States.
“I am grateful to the Citi Foundation for recognizing the importance of supporting local community-building initiatives in Los Angeles,” said California Community Foundation President & CEO Antonia Hernández. “This is the largest outside grant and the first national funding partner to support our work with Black men and boys. We look forward to continued partnership with Los Angeles organizations delivering academic and career guidance to our future community leaders.”
With the support of The Community Progress Makers Fund, CCF and committed donors in Los Angeles and across the nation, BLOOM seeks to expand its impact and ensure that more young men like Ernest have the chance not only to succeed, but to help others.
“They showed you that bridge, and now it’s your turn,” Ernest said. “First you find your mentor, then you become one.”
To learn more about BLOOM and how you can help transform the futures of young Black men in Los Angeles County, visit calfund.org/bloom.
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