LOS ANGELES — The Board of Supervisors announced July 21, it has unanimously approved a motion to increase Department of Mental Health or DMH funding to combat the school-to-prison pipeline of African American men. Co-authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, this motion directs $1.35 million to the Department of Health Services or DHS to contract with California Community Foundation to expand its Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men or BLOOM and Becoming A Man or BAM Programs. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas worked closely with DMH to ensure that schools in the Second District would be prioritized for BLOOM/BAM expansion.
This funding expands the BLOOM/BAM programming offered in schools and provides young black men with resources that enable them to manage life challenges, engage in mental health services, and continue towards success. These projects seek out youth who are probation-involved, contending with behavioral issues, deficient in school credits and/or experiencing absenteeism or truancy. Each program aims to assist students with academic achievement, character development and mentoring services. Since 2012, 100% of BLOOM seniors have graduated from high school, nearly all have enrolled in college, and 97% have upheld the terms of their probation and have not reoffended.
Systemic racism and inequities faced by black people have particularly been on display in public schools where young black men are disproportionately isolated, punished and pushed into the school to prison pipeline. Although black men comprise only 9 percent of the County’s population, 32 percent of black youth are on probation and 80 percent are rearrested within three years.