The California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color (SCBMC) held a public hearing this morning in Sacramento at the Sheraton Grand Hotel to explore policy and legislative solutions aimed at improving the lives of young males of color.

Additionally, in honor of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old unarmed Florida teenager who was shot and killed by an armed neighborhood watch volunteer, Assemblymember Steven Bradford introduced a resolution in the Assembly asking that the state invest in more program designed to help young men of color.

Formed by Speaker John Pérez last year at the request of former Oakland-area Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, the Select Committee’s core objectives are keeping kids in school and addressing the violence youth experience in their communities.

During the hearing, participants were introduced to a package of bills tackling these key areas.

These items include, SB744 which calls for Community Day Schools and County Schools to no longer allow homeless and foster youth to be involuntarily placed in county community schools normally reserved for expelled students and youth on probation.

This is to protect the former from potential violence at the hands of expelled and probation youth.

It would also would require that any student found not guilty of an offense typically warranting expulsion by a discipline hearing panel have to the right to return to their school of origin.

The second bill, AB174, would establish a grant program for school-based health centers to provide mental health services to embattled students who live in high-crime neighborhoods. The goal is to counteract the impact of the high levels of violence these youth may be subjected to.

The third bill, AB549, encourages improvement of campus safety, particularly in schools that serve low-income students. It requires schools and districts, in their campus safety plans, to better define the roles of adults on campus—counselors, and administrators.

In its first year, the Select Committee was able to help pass legislation that provides Black males with priority access to community colleges and career pathways programs.

According to the Subcommittee, California’s boys and young men of color are more likely to grow up in neighborhoods marked by poverty, lack of opportunity, violence, underfunded schools and low-wage jobs that do not represent pathways to careers or future health and success.

After a series of hearings held around the state last year, the committee released a draft report and action plan intended to be a blueprint for the next 10 years. It outlined key legislative proposals to address health, education, employment, juvenile justice and youth development.