Foundation Launches $50-Million Project to Support Minority Boys

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2013

California’s largest healthcare foundation Wednesday announced a $50-million initiative to support minority boys and young men, saying the odds against their succeeding in school and in future careers were staggering.

The California Endowment said the seven-year project would aim to boost attendance 30% in targeted schools, reduce by half the number of those suspended, train campus police on the effect of trauma on students, establish conflict-resolution programs in 10 communities, develop 1,000 youth leaders and make sure all eligible children have health coverage.

Foundation President Robert K. Ross said those goals were based on research showing that poor third-grade reading scores, chronic absenteeism, school suspensions and truancy in early grades were reliable warning signs that students were “losing hope and headed for trouble.”

Such students are disproportionately minority boys and young men, he said.

Among African American males, for instance, more than 80% cannot read at grade level by third grade—a key marker of high school graduation. They are also 30 times more likely to be suspended from school in Los Angeles than are white girls.

And with 70% of Californians under age 25 identifying as non-white, Ross said, the state’s future depends on better preparing minority young men for success.

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