The has announced a seven-year, $50 million commitment to its initiative to help improve the health and life outcomes of boys and young men of color in the state.
Part of the endowment's ten-year, $1 billion campaign, the initiative aims to ensure that boys and young men of color meet three critical markers which research has shown to be essential for health and success in life — achieve reading proficiency by third grade, graduate from high school, and earn a postsecondary certification. According to the endowment, students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma; more than 80 percent of African-American boys in the state do not read at grade level by the end of third grade.
To address the situation, the initiative will work to support the development of a thousand youth leaders in the state; boost school attendance by 30 percent in targeted schools as a way to improve reading proficiency; reduce by 50 percent the number of students in the state who are suspended; provide training to all school police officers in the areas of youth development and trauma; establish ten prosecutor programs that keep young people accountable and out of the justice system; and enroll all eligible children in health coverage. The initiative was launched earlier this week with a "get kids back in school" effort that saw volunteers from , the , and visit the homes of absent students and encourage them to get back in school while connecting their families with any needed social services.
"When boys go to school, can read by third grade, and finish their education without getting suspended, expelled, or involved [in the juvenile justice system], we put them on a surer path to becoming healthy, productive adults," said Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of the California Endowment. "We know what works — early intervention that gets young people off to a great start and ongoing support that ensures they stay on track. That is why the California Endowment is making a long-term commitment in the future of our sons and brothers."