In the ever-busy 2020s, nobody is fully immune from stress, anxiety, and even grief. One Rancho Cucamonga man has seen that fact so clearly that he set out to create an organization that focuses on stress management and resource access for the African American community in the region.
The result is Blueprints and Pathways, a non-profit, community-based organization whose sole mission is to alleviate sometimes overbearing challenges.
“Our mission is to help African Americans make decisions that improve their overall life satisfaction, and we want to impact the community in a positive way,” Robert Gipson says. “We provide roadmaps based on evidence-based practices to address stress and stress management.”
The genesis for Blueprints and Pathways began in 2022. Gipson was working on his doctorate at California Baptist University when he was struck with an impulse to help others. Through a series of cohorts, he acquired vital information to help him form the nonprofit and soon became its founder and executive director.
“There is a unique experience of stress for African Americans that we experience from racial trauma, generational trauma, and just the history of the African American experience—from slavery and inequities,” Gipson says. “That is a separate layer of stress we experience outside of the normal human stress we all experience. Our goal is to comprehensively address those stresses and reduce them utilizing evidence-based practices with an outcome of having increased life satisfaction.”
The way the organization implements all that is by focusing on the four pillars of mental health: diet and nutrition, physical exercise, stress management, and social health. For instance, stress management can be in the form of any therapy or Christian counseling, which the organization will offer. There is also peer-to-peer group support and therapeutic techniques for coping with stress management.
Access to a bevy of resources also filter into the mix.
Recently, Blueprints and Pathways received a Black Equity Fund grant through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Gipson says the grant funding will, “definitely help us in the sense of getting up and running and really working the program.”
One of the unique components of the group’s mission to aid in easing stress is pinpointing those stressors.
“Social determinants of health also impact us,” Gipson notes. “So, for instance, if I don’t have an education or income, or my business is not doing well, I may need access to networking. We’re deeply looking at things like that and also connecting people to resources.”
He goes on to say that currently, the organization is working with small cohorts of three to five individuals at a time. Gipson and his trained partners offer myriad activities—from hikes out in Claremont Wilderness Park to engaging with a counselor, mental health educator or even a holistic practitioner trained in something like reiki.
“The hikes, for instance, may be a 30- to 40-minute walk in nature and we’d discuss some of the stresses that we are experiencing and ways to mitigate them,” he says, “and different kinds of coping skills. At the same time, it truly allows for social connection with others.”
“That’s one big way the grant was great for us,” he adds. “It is a technical assistance grant that will help grow and scale the nonprofit model we have.”
Gipson is enthusiastic about the possibilities ahead and believes 2024 and beyond will prove to be fruitful.
“We are starting off small, but ultimately we want to use the results and the outcomes through evaluations and testimonials and then start collecting quantitative data on the mental and psychological changes,” he says. “That will support further growth and expanding the model and the entire program.”
Reach out to Blueprints and Pathways at blueprintsandpathwaysatgmail.com.
Learn more at iegives.org.
This story originally appeared in the Press Enterprise January 2024.