The Black Empowerment Fund is Investing in Equity for L.A. Black Communities

April 5, 2022

One year ago, with the support of our donors and community partners, California Community Foundation (CCF) launched a bold new fund to invest in the promise of systemic change and equity for L.A.’s Black families. Ensuring that Black-led and Black-empowering organizations throughout Los Angeles County have the resources and long-term infrastructure to thrive is the driving force behind CCF’s Black Empowerment Fund.

“The disparities we see today are the result of neglect, discrimination or both”, says Jai Phillips, Youth Development Program Officer at CCF. “Philanthropy must continue to invest in solutions that value Black life, Black intellect, Black enterprise, Black culture, Black art and Black communities”.

The inaugural cohort of 20 community-based organizations who received $1 million in grants represent dynamic leaders that develop transformational, community-centered solutions for the Black community to achieve their full potential for self-actualization and social and economic prosperity.

Omega Educational Foundation, a grantee of the Black Empowerment Fund, works to empower young Black males to achieve intellectual enlightenment and academic success by providing youth with the tools necessary to develop self-respect, health and wellness, community leadership and conflict resolution skills during their formative years. Early intervention programs are crucial to ensure children don’t fall between the cracks. Young Black men are often hardest hit, accounting for nearly a third of L.A. County youth on probation.

“Providing positive role models to young Black men, in the form of mentors, allows them to see what is possible beyond what the streets of their neighborhoods have to offer,” says Ricky Lewis, Director of the Omega Educational Foundation. “One cannot become what one does not see. Providing them with tangible examples of success allows them to dream bigger than their current circumstances may allow.”

For Tyler, who is an Alumni of the Omega Educational Foundation, the resources and opportunities provided by the organization changed the course of his life. “As a young man who grew up without a father figure present in the home, it was hard to know who to look up to until I met Mr. Lewis.” He adds, “having someone believe in my potential made me believe in myself despite the challenges I encountered along the way”.

Now 25 years old, Tyler is a graduate from Cal State LA where he received his degree in criminal justice. “I can never repay what Omega Educational Foundation did for me, but I am committed to serving my community by focusing my long-term career goals working with child probation and rehabilitation.”

In the last two years, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the demand for mentors has increased. The isolation brought on by school shutdowns combined with the stress and anxiety of not knowing what tomorrow would bring made the importance of having additional support even more critical for at risk youth.

The increase in demand for mentors during the pandemic was something Omega Educational Foundation was able to address with the funding provided to them by CCF’s Black Empowerment Fund. “There was an immediate need to build our capacity and shift the way we delivered our services”, says Lewis. “Maintaining consistent communication with youth and their caregivers is one way in which we build trust and establish a long-term relationship.”

Since its inception over 28 years ago, the Omega Educational Foundation has served over 8,800 young Black men.

Omega Educational Foundation serves as one example of the incredible work that is being done by all Black Empowerment Fund grantees. All Black Empowerment Fund grantees are in the foreground providing the community with the resources and opportunities it needs to thrive. We invite you to join us in this transformational work by donating today.

To make a secure, tax-deductible donation online, click on the button below. You may also send checks payable to the California Community Foundation, noting that the donation is for the Black Empowerment Fund. Checks should be mailed to:

California Community Foundation
221 S. Figueroa St., Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Donate Now

For additional information, contact Jai Phillips, Youth Development Program Officer at jphillips@calfund.org.

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