As reported in the 2010 Census, more than 70% of Californians under the age of 25 identified themselves as “people of color.” Without a doubt, California's future is colorful. One Los Angeles foundation has committed to making it more successful as well.
The California Endowment has made a seven-year commitment of $50 million to improving the education and health of boys and young men of color in California. This impressive commitment came in response to starting statistics from an attorney general's report linking elementary school truancy and crime rates. (See California Endowment: Los Angeles Grants).
The Endowment's $50 million is going towards a campaign called Sons & Brothers Across California, which aims to boost literacy, while reducing chronic truancy and drop out rates. The campaign will focus on three critical benchmarks; third grade reading, high school graduation, and post-secondary certification. Children and teenage African-American males are the sole target of the campaign because socioeconomic research shows they are, by far, the most at-risk group in the state.
The foundation has enlisted none other than Bridge Street President and CEO, Martin Ludlow, to be the campaign's spokesman. You might recognize Ludlow from his stint as a Los Angeles City Councilman or from his highly-publicized ethics investigation. While on the Council, Ludlow was fixated on reducing gang violence. Now he's joined forces with one of the city's biggest names in philanthropy to reverse the negative trajectory and redirect African-American men towards productive lifestyles.
Ludlow intends for the Sons & Brothers campaign to change the “entire ecosystem” for African-American males, and he's asking for help from the rest of the philanthropic community. “We believe now is the time to take action by investing in our sons and brothers of color because that is the demographic group that performs lowest across socioeconomic categories,” Ludlow explained. “The investment is extraordinary, but alone it is not enough to get the job done. It is more of a call to action to other organizations we are hoping heed that call.”
If anyone understands what it means to overcome staggering odds as an African-American boy, it's Martin Ludlow. After being born in 1964 to a black father and a white mother and going through the foster home and adoption process, Ludlow went on achieve success in politics, business, and social service. Clearly, the California Endowment understands that the fate of young African-American men equates to the fate of California. Now how many other philanthropists will follow its lead?