In May 2012, the California Community Foundation (CCF), a public, charitable organization serving Los Angeles County, launched a five-year initiative focused on serving Black male youth involved in the juvenile delinquency system. The Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men (BLOOM) Initiative was designed with the goal of redirecting Black male youth, ages 14-18 years old involved with the Los Angeles County probation system, toward improved educational and employment opportunities and outcomes
The disproportionate representation of Black male youth on probation and in prison is staggering. In Los Angeles County for example, Black youth represent 10% of the youth population, yet they comprise approximately 30% of all youth under probation supervision. The overrepresentation of Black males in the probation system reveals an urgent need and a destructive cycle, which the BLOOM Initiative seeks to disrupt.
To address the overrepresentation of Black male youth involved with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, the BLOOM Initiative funded five direct-service, community-based organizations (CBO's) to provide programs in a key strategy area identified by CCF/BLOOM as critical toward improving pathways for probation-involved Black male youth. The goal of the
Initiative is to redirect these young men toward improved educational and employment opportunities and outcomes. In particular, the criteria youth must meet to be eligible for BLOOM includes (1) Black male; (2) between the ages of 14 and 18; (3) South Los Angeles resident; and (4) currently or has previously been on probation. Additionally, two companies were funded to provide auxiliary services, consisting of support toward two of the BLOOM goals, to re-shape public perception of probation-involved Black males, and to support the capacity building efforts of the five direct-service partners funded as a part of the Initiative.
During the first year of the Initiative (2012 -- 2013), the California Community Foundation contracted with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) evaluation team to conduct a process and outcomes-focused evaluation of the BLOOM Initiative. During this year, the evaluation team collected quantitative and qualitative data to establish a baseline for assessing the outcomes of the Initiative and the progress made toward achieving set goals. Based on recommendations from the mid-year evaluation, the California Community Foundation, the BLOOM Advisory Board, and BLOOM Initiative partners, the initial BLOOM strategy areas were revised to better align with Initiative goals -- to improve educational and employment opportunities for system-involved Black male youth. Thus this report highlights the progress made toward improved educational and employment opportunities for BLOOM youth