Initiative invests in South LA's Black youth


"I started hanging in the streets, resorted to gangbanging," he said. "I got shot, went to jail, and those were turning points in my life."

After getting shot at the age of 14, Lazarrius decided his life had to change. He got involved with the Brotherhood Crusade, a program that helps at-risk kids in South Los Angeles.

The organization is one of several groups the California Community Foundation has partnered with to create "BLOOM," which stands for Build a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Black Men.

"Black male youth are about 10 percent of the county youth population, yet around 33 percent of the county probation population," said Robert Lewis of the California Community Foundation. "

Bloom is determined to change those statistics.

It's the first philanthropic effort in the country focusing on Black males between the ages of 14 and 18 who have had a brush with the law. The goal is to prevent them from winding up in prison by providing educational and employment opportunities.

Lazarrius is still on probation, but his future looks bright.

Over a five-year period, BLOOM hopes to decrease the number of Black males in the probation system by 10 percent. That could amount to $50 million in savings for Los Angeles County.

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