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Researchers, policymakers, advocates, and students depicted the state of San Diego’s boys and young men of color, sharing information on  to improve their social and economic conditions

October 23, 2013 (San Diego) – Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber’s (D-79) Youth Advisory Council and the California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, chaired by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-62), held a joint informational briefing yesterday evening to discuss the status of boys and men of color in the San Diego area and to connect the work of the Select Committee to the local community.

“As one of the state’s fastest growing populations, we should be investing in our boys and men of color, not leaving them behind,” said Assemblymember Weber. “This is a rescue mission to save California.”

Assemblymembers Weber, Bradford, and Cheryl Brown (D-47) heard testimony from two panels of local youth, policy advocates, government representatives, and community organizers on the status of local boys and men of color in the areas of education and juvenile justice.

The first panel explored challenges and opportunities in education and youth development, and was moderated by Assemblymember Weber. The discussion featured experts Charles “CC” Carter, Director of Training for the Alliance for Education Solutions (AES), Ian Gordon, Director of the San Diego Youth Development Office, Anthony Hutchings, Program Director of the Boys to Men Mentoring Network, Drs. Frank Harris III and J. Luke Wood, San Diego State University, and Jose Garcia and Joe Ross, two student members of the Boys to Men Mentoring Network.

“Well-meaning teachers often buy into false, negative stereotypes about the abilities of young men of color. These biases must be unlearned,” said Wood, responding to Assemblymember Weber’s question about how to better train teachers to educate boys and young men of color.

Asked by Assemblymember Bradford about the value of reestablishing vocational and arts training in schools, Carter outlined successes at New San Juan High School, where students complete core requirements, but also acquire skills through vocational programs.

“A lot of students get excited about school through arts and music classes,” Ross reflected. “Then they bring that creativity to other classes like math and English.”

The second panel, moderated by Assemblymember Bradford, featured a discussion on juvenile justice and youth violence prevention with a focus on school climate and health. The Assemblymembers heard testimony from Abdulqadir Abdullah, Armande Binombe, and Leslie Renteria, Members of the 79th District Youth Advisory Council, Rosa Ana Lozada, Chair of the Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention, Martin Moreno, Youth/Community Organizer of Mid-City Community Advocacy Network, Yeni L. Palomino, Program Manager for Community Health Improvement Partners, and Tasha Williamson, Founder of the Compassion Project.

“In City Heights, the school system is all disciplinary action,” said Binombe, whose Youth Advisory Council is working to implement a restorative justice system in schools. “It’s easier to expel students for a minor offense than to work on the root causes of that offense.”

Renteria noted, “It doesn’t make any sense to expel students for not going to school. That’s what they want.”

The importance of student health was another main topic of discussion. “We need to have trauma-informed care available at schools,” said Williamson. “We never talk about the trauma that these students have endured. Kids that witness violent crimes and hear sirens all night are victims.”

The event took place on the heels of a  legislative session that enacted several measures supported by the Select Committee and Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

“The Select Committee plans to double down on our commitment to improve outcomes for our boys and young men of color in 2014,” said Assemblymember Bradford. “This commitment includes strengthening our relationship with the great work happening here in San Diego.”

Investing in young men of color can reap huge dividends for California. According to a 2007 study by the California Dropout Research Project at UC Santa Barbara, African-American and Latino men graduating high school generate $681,130 and $451,360 more per person in additional dollars for the state than those who do not graduate high school. This is due to increased tax revenue and economic productivity as well as decreased costs associated with poor health or incarceration.

The Alliance for Boys and Men of Color is a coalition of change agents committed to improving the life chances of California’s boys and young men of color. The Alliance includes youth, community organizations, foundations and systems leaders – like education, public health and law enforcement officials. For more information and to see a list of Alliance local anchors and state policy partners, please visit:

The California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color was formed in 2012 to respond to the pressing needs of young men of color in California, where 70 percent of youth identify as people of color. In the 2013 session, the Committee continued efforts to advance common sense school discipline, design a more comprehensive approach to school safety, and facilitate the implementation of the local control funding formula to ensure that young men of color can access opportunity in their neighborhoods starting at an early age.


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