March 8, 2014: On Monday, March 3, Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of the California Endowment, at left, posted the following recap of the preceding Week for Our Sons & Brothers.
The Sons & Brothers Campaign, recognizing that 70% of California's youth under the age of 25 are of color, has been founded by the California Endowment and funded ($50 million to date) to accomplish the following goals:
*Support development of 1000 youth leaders throughout California.
• Improve school attendance by 30% in targeted schools [with a specific intent] to improve reading proficiency.
• Cut in half the number of students suspended, using proven
common-sense discipline strategies that keep kids in school and
• Train all California school police officers on youth development
• Implement restorative justice and diversionary programs in ten
communities, so kids and communities come together to resolve
conflicts, and kids stay out of juvenile hall.
• Enroll all eligible children in health coverage to support their
physical and mental health.
As Dr. Ross writes:
So, this must be what being part of a movement feels like. The national movement to reclaim the promise and a future for young men of color kicked into a new gear this week. Here’s what I saw and felt:
• On Tuesday evening I was fortunate and blessed to be honored among 28 African-American “Men of Change” at a BET network event, featuring Forest Whitaker, among others. The Boys & Young Men of Color work (now known as our Sons & Brothers Campaign) was recognized, and it provided us with an opportunity to underscore the importance of this effort with Hollywood’s influentials.
• Actor-colleague Jesse Williams ("Grey’s Anatomy," “The Butler”) appeared on both the Arsenio Hall Show and The View, and graciously pitched support for our Sons & Brothers campaign.
• On Wednesday evening, accompanied by two young “Sons & Brothers” from South Los Angeles (Tim from Crenshaw High School) and Richmond (Sompong from SF State), we were guests of filmmaker Tyler Perry at the Essence Magazine pre-Oscar Awards dinner. With Tyler Perry, Sidney Poitier, Spike Lee and other notables in the audience, I took the opportunity to lift up our Sons & Brothers work, and preview President Obama’s call-to-action.
• I then jumped on an overnight flight to Washington, D.C., to participate in President Obama’s call-to-action event for his national “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. The White House public-private strategy is similar in many respects to our statewide “Sons & Brothers” campaign, so there is excellent synergy between the two. The inspiring event was attended by General Colin Powell, Magic Johnson, and Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emmanuel (do I sound like a name-dropper by now?) – and a wide range of civic leaders nationally. A national alliance of private foundations is now committed in support.
• Within 24 hours of the President’s announcement, our Sons & Brothers social media platform exploded, with twitter impressions climbing past the 250 million mark (seriously!).
• All of this coming on the heels of a major campaign success nationally on school discipline reform, as the New York Times and federal Departments of Education & Justice began 2014 with pieces devoted to school suspension reform as a necessity. California helped drive this policy conversation.
Much of this was catalyzed and fueled with the voices of young men and women across Building Healthy Communities sites in California, and with the grassroots organizations that support them. Your energy, passion, and voices are cherished. Can’t stop now….