African American Education | July 1, 2019

Report Highlights Community-Driven Model to Serve Men of Color in South LA

In 2012, CCF launched BLOOM, a $7 million initiative to address the overwhelming disparities faced by Black male youth involved in L.A. County’s juvenile justice system. Over seven years, the initiative has blossomed, with Brotherhood Crusade (BHC) and Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) delivering programs that uncover the true potential of Black boys and young men. Though the initiative was not without its challenges, our partners worked hard, were patient, took smart risks, and committed themselves to learning along the way. The result is a powerful new model for expanding opportunities for young people who face steep and entrenched barriers.

Read this report to understand more about the model, the story of BLOOM, its impact, and the lessons we learned along the way. Through the initiative, BHC and SJLI developed programs that tap into the potential of young Black males through developmental relationships with male mentors along with positive peer relationships and accountability with other young Black men.

Since its launch, BLOOM has impacted the lives of nearly 800 young Black men in South L.A. Over the past six years, CCF’s commitment of $500,000 per year, totaling $3.5 million, leveraged $3.3 million from other foundations, as well as contributions from individual donors, with an additional $3.2 million pledged over the next five years.

CCF exemplifies what can happen when a foundation takes risks and responds to community needs, and this innovation is already spreading beyond our walls. As the Los Angeles County Probation Department is working to redefine diversion efforts, it is partnering with CCF and Liberty Hill to disburse public funds to organizations interested in replicating youth development efforts like BLOOM. This is vital, because systems can only change when communities are resourced and can advocate for what they know they need.

This new public-private partnership is a very important shift in a system that has historically been risk averse. It aligns with CCF’s goal to build a system that replaces the traditional structures of punishment and incarceration with best practices centered on healing, learning, and opportunity. Going forward, grantees will receive funding for their critical work to strengthen education, mental health, cultural and workforce programs, while also benefiting from training and support to build capacity for growth and success.

Nearly every major indicator of economic, social, and physical well-being shows that Black men and boys in the U.S. are systematically deprived of the support and opportunities they need to thrive, and when they fail to achieve their potential, we all suffer. BLOOM can help the field move beyond traditional anti-recidivism and diversion work—work that addresses only the symptoms of the chronic underinvestment in these boys and young men— and toward holistic interventions that help young men graduate from high school, complete post secondary programs, and prepare for the workforce. If CCF’s work inspires you to reimagine what is possible for these boys and young men, then the patience will have been well worth it.


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