report image featuring boys and young men of color at a leadership development retreat
Social Movements and Governing Power

Transformative Programming for Boys and Young Men of Color: Lessons from Youth Organizing and Leadership Groups

June 2021

By Uriel Serrano and Veronica Terriquez

Initiatives across the country have emerged to address “persistent opportunity gaps” that contribute to the criminalization of boys and young men of color (BMOC), and to poor health outcomes in their communities. The California Endowment (TCE) has been a leader in responding to the challenges faced by this young population. Through focused investments in high-poverty communities, TCE has supported youth-serving organizations that help BMOC heal from trauma and hardship while equipping them to challenge the structural conditions that prevent them from thriving and achieving their goals.

This report draws on more than five years of research to highlight some promising practices for engaging BMOC as leaders in their communities. The research uses multiple data sources, including surveys with 171 TCE grantees, 75 in-depth interviews with male-identified members of youth organizing groups, 12 focus groups, and over 800 hours of participant observations within TCE-supported youth organizations. The report begins by offering a rationale for focusing on the contemporary experiences of BMOC. The next section describes the gender composition and leadership development of members of TCE-supported “youth organizing groups” and “youth leadership groups.” This is followed by a section that outlines promising practices. The final section, which will be developed with input from youth leaders, will put forward recommendations for building on promising practices. Overall, this report seeks to inform community-based efforts and investments that help BMOC to heal and thrive individually and collectively while also giving them the tools to address systemic violence and injustice in their

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