BLOOM (Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men):
BLOOM is a partnership with the community of South Los Angeles to improve educational and employment opportunities for 14-18 year old Black males who are, or have been, involved in the county probation system. Begun by the California Community Foundation, BLOOM increases leadership and career-based mentoring opportunities for Black male youth while addressing policies that lead to chronic involvement with the judicial system and reshaping public perception of Black male youth.
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. And though they are only 9 percent of all young people living in L.A., Black youth make up nearly 33 percent of those on probation. Once in the system, it is hard to get out, with more than 80 percent facing re-arrest within three years.
With access to educational opportunities, caring mentors and positive options, there’s no limit on what these young men can achieve. And when they succeed, all Angelenos benefit.
In 2012, CCF launched BLOOM (Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men) to help young Black men who are or are at risk of becoming involved the juvenile justice system onto positive paths towards success. By combining mentorship, character development and specially-tailored programming BLOOM helped young men succeed in high school, higher education and life. Though the initiative was not without its challenges, our partners Brotherhood Crusade and the Social Justice Learning Institute 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.
Over the course of seven years, nearly 800 young men transformed their futures through the program, which has been recognized by the White House as a promising model to be replicated nationally. Ninety percent of BLOOMers upheld the terms of their probation and have not reoffended, and 93 percent earned their high school diploma or GED.