All across Los Angeles, the potential of our children is being lost. At a time when a bachelor’s degree leads to a $1 million increase in lifetime earnings, only one in 10 young Black men graduates from a four-year college. Black youth make up nearly a third of all youth on probation. And once in the system, it is hard to get out, with more than 80 percent facing re-arrest within three years.
But by investing in our young Black men, we can break the school-to-prison pipeline, tap into their incredible potential and create a better future for all Angelenos.
When we believe in, invest in and support our young men, they will thrive. By doubling down on our focus on high school completion and reducing recidivism, youth participating in BLOOM saw improved outcomes in school and were better able to complete the terms of their probation and separate themselves from the system.
Mykol Lewis is making a difference and sowing seeds among young men in an effort to build a stronger South L.A. This belief in making our communities better is the trademark of Brotherhood Crusade. As their director of BLOOM programs, Mykol works with young men who have a lot in common. Many struggle with poverty and family instability. Many were exposed to violence at a young age. All have experienced what it’s like to be caught in the system, and all have the potential to escape it.
I was born in Long Beach and grew up in Compton and Watts. I was smart, but I’d always get picked on. Everyone else had new clothes, and we had hand-me-downs. That’s how I started stealing. When I wound up on probation for three or four months, it was a blessing, because it opened me up to BLOOM.
When Dr. D’Artagnan Scorza wanted to move the cause of educational equity for young Black men forward, he started by looking back. He founded the Black Male Youth Academy at his alma mater, Inglewood’s Morningside High School, to help young men of color break cycles of recidivism and create opportunities for academic achievement. The transformations he witnessed were inspiring.
When BLOOMers like Zakeer succeed, everyone benefits. The work of BLOOM and our partners Brotherhood Crusade and Social Justice Learning Institute are crucial to realizing the promise of our region. We believe that a better quality of life for all Angelenos depends on the success of our young Black men. Through academic support, mentorship and positive options, we can help their futures bloom.
We invite you to contribute to BLOOM and help transform the futures of young Black men in South L.A. Our goal is to raise $150,000 to support 60 BLOOM participants, or $2,500 per youth. We welcome gifts of any size to help continue this important work.
To learn how you can support BLOOM in transforming the futures of young Black men in Los Angeles County, contact Tammy Johnson at tjohnson [@] calfund [.] org, by phone at (213) 413-4130 ext. 208 or visit calfund.org/BLOOM.