Concerned Black Men (CBM) was founded in 1975 after five African American Philadelphia police officers: Louis Abrams, Harry Crudup, Charles Harris, Stephen Lyles and Charles Patton took it upon themselves to provide positive after-school activities for at-risk youth in their community.

They took money out of their own pockets to sponsor social events for these youngsters.

CBMLA was established in 2003 as an independent non-profit organization and strives to provide quality youth and adult services such as teen pregnancy prevention, HIV/AIDS prevention, mentoring, tutoring, and literacy programs to African American communities throughout the Los Angeles County area.

“We have many challenges ahead that are unique to our culture. Our community is continuously being splintered into the have and have-nots, those with education and financial stability and those without it. Many youth are faced with unhealthy choices like drugs and gangs, as well as the media, with rap videos and messages that tell our youth to get what you can no matter who you need to step on,” said President Jason McCuller, about why he is dedicated to making a change through the non-profit.

“I’m motivated to see a change in culture and status of our African American males, especially with their low graduation rates and low college enrollment. Many of our members are comfortable and grateful, and we want to give back. We aren’t trying to exclude young Black females but they seem to be doing much better and are generally more dedicated to getting a good education. So many of our young Black men have been brainwashed by society and the rap game, and we have to get them back on the right track. When I went back East and visited the national organization in D.C., I realized that I wanted to start a chapter here (in Los Angeles) because we have so many young Black men who could use that kind of help,” said McCuller.

“With many African American non-profits, the turnover rate for new members is difficult, we are always striving to push membership, and get our numbers up with some really dedicated members. We need more volunteers who can help organize,” said the president, when asked about challenges the organization has faced.

The newest program that CBMLA is working on is “Welcome to Manhood” which provides young men, ages 11 to 19, with a series of workshops that promote education, life skills, etiquette, effective communication, interviewing skills, money/time management, career training, and college preparatory skills. The non-profit is working in partnership with the Friends of Hyde Park Miriam Matthew Library to offer the training.

“So far the program has been very successful, with 20 to 25 kids showing up for each workshop,” said McCuller.

The next installment of the program begins September 25, and will be held the last Saturday of every month. “Welcome to Manhood” is free to the youngsters, and includes snacks, T-shirts, games and other giveaways to provide incentives for youth to participate.

Concerned Black Men strives to genuinely improve the lives and the conditions of Black children, and their vision is to create more positive Black male role models in struggling communities by providing mentors and programs that offer valuable assistance to youth. The goal of men offering themselves as positive role models to children has remained CBM’s mission for more than 30 years.

For more information on the organization, and to find out how you can help, visit www.cbmla.org or call (213) 359-3378.