Break the Cycle's history

In 1995, her last year of law school at UCLA, Meredith Blake recognized a critical unmet need, and set out to create a nonprofit organization working with youth around issues of violence in their homes and relationships. Drawing on her passions for justice, social activism and community organizing, she created Break the Cycle, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence by working proactively with youth ages 12 to 22.

With the support of advisors from various fields including law, education, health and psychology – and a first-year budget of less than $30,000 raised through individual donors and modest fellowships – Meredith launched Break the Cycle from her Los Angeles apartment. The organization was officially incorporated in March of 1996 and in the spring of 1997, Break the Cycle moved into a small Santa Monica office, where Meredith welcomed its first staff members: an attorney, an administrative assistant and three law interns. They began implementing Break the Cycle’s programs, visiting local classrooms to teach teens about their rights and responsibilities with regard to dating and domestic violence and providing free legal services for young people experiencing abuse. That summer Break the Cycle also distributed its first quarterly newsletter, Breaking News, and hosted its inaugural yearly fundraising event, the Summer Soirée.

In early 1998, Break the Cycle received its first foundation grant from the Los Angeles County Bar Foundation and began a grant writing campaign to secure other sources of funding. Thanks to growing support from donors and foundations who recognized the value of Break the Cycle’s services, Break the Cycle’s programs and infrastructure grew dramatically. In 2001, having been awarded grants by the Centers for Disease Control in partnership with the think-tank RAND Corporation as well as by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Break the Cycle was able to substantially increase the impact and evaluation of its programs. Also in 2001, Break the Cycle hired its first-ever public policy staff attorney to advocate local and national policy related to its mission and services. In 2003, fully staffed and with increased funding streams and an ever-growing base of volunteers and supporters, Break the Cycle launched its national expansion, opening new offices in cities across the country.

The organization’s important mission, its innovative approach to that mission, and its rapid growth have been widely recognized through awards and in the media, including Newsweek, New York’s Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Business Journal, Los Angeles Daily Journal, O Magazine, YM, Jane, Vogue, Family Circle, the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Oxygen Network, FOX 11 Los Angeles News, KNBC Los Angeles News, National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio and many others.

©1998-2003 Break the Cycle. All Rights Reserved.