Obama announces My Brother’s Keeper initiative for young men of color


Obama announces My Brother’s Keeper | Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama pledged $200 million last week to My Brother’s Keeper, a collection of programs across the country designed to help young, at-risk men of Black and Latino backgrounds to become successful. He said one objective is to guarantee that “every child in America” can access “a world-class education.”

In California, young boys and men of color experienced the lowest graduation rates and the highest incarceration rates. They are also the most likely to be involved in violent crimes. Many state organizations are stepping up to participate in My Brother’s Keeper, including The California Endowment. The group has committed $50 million to improve education and provide healthcare programs.

To hear from the California Endowment’s spokesman and other commentators on the possible impact of Obama’s initiative, click play on an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

OPINION: Providing mental health services for South LA families

By Carolyn Wang, for Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic

imageImagine every child in South LA succeeds in school. Now, imagine every child also learns to how to build a lifetime of healthy relationships and emotional well-being.

Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic works daily to make that vision a reality as an essential component of a healthy South LA.

“We can’t build community health without incorporating easy access to mental health services for our children and families,” says the Clinic’s president and CEO Betsy Pfromm.

Since 1924, the Clinic has worked with community partners to create that access.

“We are grateful for our partners’ expertise, as well as for their willingness to embrace mental health as a priority,” said Pfromm. “Our solutions are that much stronger as a result.”

The Clinic relies on its team of compassionate professionals to offer behavioral counseling and support to individuals and families at homes, in schools or through our no appointment, walk-in access center. But Clinic leadership also coordinates daily with fellow mental health advocates in many venues.

One key partner is the Empowerment Congress, originated in 1992 by Mark Ridley-Thomas, now the Los Angeles County Supervisor for the 2nd District.

“The Empowerment Congress provides an invaluable forum for mental health providers and advocates to promote mental health in our community,” said Pfromm, who chairs the Congress’s mental health committee.

Vice President of Advancement César Portillo has worked over the last two years with health, environment, education and community advocates to help launch South LA Building Healthy Communities— a part of a 10-year strategic effort by The California Endowment. The goal: to support the development of communities where kids and youth can be healthy, safe and ready to learn.

Partnership with primary care is essential – and Vice President of Programs Elena Judd is developing capacity to provide mental health services directly onsite at the South Central Family Health Center (SCFHC), while Community Access Coordinator Eric Inouye coordinates co-located services at SCFHC’s campus-based clinic at The Accelerated School. In fact, the Clinic offers services directly at over 20 local Los Angeles Unified School District campuses.

Partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health extends beyond direct service provision. The Clinic supports community planning processes for Los Angeles’ Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) programs.

“In the spirit of collaboration, our partners are teachers, law enforcement, gang specialists, medical professionals, parents, and more,” says Paco Retana, the director of outpatient services. “Together, we will create an effective community treatment plan.”

This year, the Clinic seeks to include even more of the community in their outreach efforts. To commemorate Mental Health Awareness month in May, the Clinic is launching its “Praise A Child Today” campaign. Participating businesses in the Figueroa Corridor Business Improvement District will receive posters offering patrons a free magnet listing 100 Ways to Praise a Child. What better way to build health in South LA?

For more information on this campaign, contact Carolyn Wang at (323) 373-2400 x 3360.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic

Leaders from South LA nonprofits speak on ideas, hopes for future

More than 200 people and 30 South LA community organizations gathered at Bethune Middle School in April to discuss aspects of healthy living and the needs of their neighborhoods. The California Endowment sponsored the event as part of their Building Healthy Communities program. Several South LA nonprofits took a moment to describe the goals and functions of their organizations. Take a listen below!

Benjamin Torres

Benjamin Torres is the president and CEO of CDTech, a development group that works to address poverty-related issues in South LA. One of the strengths of the South LA community, Torres says, is the ability for people to come together. He cites the day’s event as just one example–several members of his organization were at another community gathering just the night before, celebrating approved plans for a new community housing development.


Karen Mack

LA Commons was founded by Karen Mack over eight years ago. The idea was to use culture to connect and bring individuals together. Since the organization’s inception, Mack has seen a flourishing of different kinds of arts within the Leimert Park community.


Cesar Portillo and Ruby Chevreuil

For Cesar Portillo and Ruby Chevreuil, one of the biggest problems they see in South LA is that mental health issues in children go undiagnosed. LA Child Guidance has walk-in hours in as a service to both kids and their parents.


Charles Fields

Charles Fields gives more inside into the California Endowment’s strategic plan, Building Healthy Communities.

South LA residents collaborate at Building Healthy Communities celebration

More than 200 people and 30 South LA community organizations gathered at Bethune Middle School this morning to discuss aspects of healthy living and the needs of their neighborhoods.

The event, Building Health Communities, was a celebration of sorts, an opportunity for nonprofits and active residents to come together and meet face to face. The California Endowment and Social Action Partners sponsored the event, which included drumming, dancing, poetry readings, and a resource fair. South LA is one of the 14 communities statewide the California Endowment selected to be a part of its Building Health Communities program.

After breakfast and some performance art, Dr. Sandra Villanueva, Ph.D., led the crowd through a collaborative exercise in asset mapping. Traditional research like surveys and polls tend to show the issues and problems with an area, Villanueva explained. But asset mapping takes a different approach–it shows the strengths of an area and looks at the gifts and talents the residents, associations, and institutions of an area have to offer. Business owners, grant writers, artists, and musicians all took turns standing up, demonstrating some of the abilities and skills community members possessed.

Asset mapping, Villanueva said, is all about “making the invisible visible.” The motto seemed to apply to the entire event–people were happy to have their voices heard. Even when addressing tough issues, as people chatted, swapped business cards and exchanged ideas, a feeling of hope and enthusiasm prevailed.