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Continuing the mission to save youth

Juliana D. Norwood | 2/23/2011, 5 p.m.

Founded in 1968, the Brotherhood Crusade's principal mission is dedicated to building and sustaining an institution that raises funds and resources from within the community and distributes those funds directly back into the community. Brotherhood Crusade has a history of building alliances with other organizations, corporations and foundations of good will that are committed to and understand the tremendous need for helping our community and people grow and prosper.

"My father founded the Crusade so I was kind-of born into it," said president and CEO Charisse Bremond-Weaver. "I volunteered there as a child and then after college I actually started working there. Six years ago the board called me to interview for the position of president and it was a dream come true. My dad died when I was 18, and after seeing all of the people at his funeral, all of the tears and all of the meaningful words that were said, I thought to myself that if I could touch a third of the people my father touched, it would be a blessing. Now, I have the greatest job on earth."

The Brotherhood Crusade has made a major impact on the lives of many by creating and providing more than $50 million in grants for programs and supportive services such as:
Job training and placement
Teen counseling and mentoring
After-school and sports programs for youths
Domestic violence shelters
Substance abuse and prevention
Scholarships for low-income students
Placement and feeding homeless families
Senior citizen services
Health fairs and health awareness programs
Gang prevention and intervention programs
Welfare to work programs
Technical assistance and small business loans to minority business owners
Fiscal management to other nonprofit organizations

Although the Brotherhood Crusade has a number of areas that it focuses on, the youth development aspect of the organization is a major area of interest. A number of programs have been implemented to improve the lives of these youngsters such as the Gang Reduction and Youth Development program (GYRD), Mentor and Me, Brother to Brother, Supplemental Education Services (SES) and March to 1000.

"When youth enter the program we test them to see what level they are, and then we develop a plan to help them improve, not only academically, but the programs expose them to other important aspects of life," said Bremond-Weaver. "We work with the students that everyone else has given up on, and we also work with their parents biweekly to provide support."

GYRD targets 10 to 15-year-old youth living in the Southwest (Exposition Park) area of South Los Angeles whose academic proficiency level is three or more grade levels below their current enrollment grade.

"The median academic proficiency of our GRYD program youth is third-grade level despite the fact that the majority of our participants are eighth-, ninth-, and 10th-grade students," said Bremond-Weaver. "Moreover, all GRYD-program youth exhibit greater than 75 percent of the risk factors that contribute most to youth joining gangs, engaging in delinquency, or dropping out of school."

The GRYD program sites include Manual Arts High School, Foshay Learning Center, Menlo Elementary School, the EXPO Center, and the African American Unity Center.