An $11.5 million initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Forward Promise (FP) focused on promoting opportunities for the health and success of middle school- and high school-aged boys and young men of color. Young men of color are more likely to grow up in poverty, live in unsafe neighborhoods and go to under-resourced schools—all of which has a lifetime of impact on their health and well-being. FP did not subscribe to the traditional model of focusing on risk factors, rather, it focused on opportunity factors—factors and influences that play a critical role in helping young men grow up healthy, get a good education and find meaningful employment.
As part of RWJF’s 30-month grants for innovative community-based programs, Community Coalition advanced their work in its community-driven reform model to address hard discipline policies and record dropout rates among African-American and Latino young men in two South LA high schools. The Coalition engaged students, parents, community organizations, and school leadership in developing solutions to the dropout and school-to-prison pipeline crisis. As their research partner, PARC utilized a mixed-methods multi-year approach to their formative and outcome evaluation. Evaluation findings determined that the Coalition was instrumental in accomplishing resource, policy, and systems level changes including strengthened parent and youth engagement and leadership on key issues not only affecting young men of color, but all high school students in South LA.