SACRAMENTO – In the wake of grim statistics and reports highlighting disparate outcomes for young African-American men, and an attorney general’s report underscoring the link between elementary school truancy and crime, the California Endowment announced it will commit $50 million over the next seven years to help improve the health and educational outcomes for young boys and men of color.

Martin Ludlow, a spokesperson for the California Endowment, said the sizable investment is intended to act as a catalyst to convince other organizations to engage in efforts to reverse the educational, social and health trends for this most at-risk group.

“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 said.

“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.”

Under the name “Sons & Brothers Across California,” the Endowment campaign has enlisted the assistance of political and religious leaders, students, parents and school faculty to achieve the campaign’s broad goals which include improving literacy rates, reducing chronic truancy and lowering the dropout rate, all of which are key indicators of future success among African American males.

“We believe that African American males are assets in California’s future, but we need to reverse the negative trajectory and set them on a proper course to be productive citizens,” Ludlow said.

“Third-grade reading, high-school graduation, and post secondary certification are three critical markers that research shows are essential for health and success in life,” he added.

Ludlow says the Sons & Brothers campaign is intended to change the “entire ecosystem” for young African American males, that includes exposure to violence, lower educational attainment and higher dropout rates, by focusing on key milestones, supporting youth and parent leadership development efforts, community-school partnerships and policy changes at the local, state and national level.

“We know these young men face staggering odds and that their health and success indicators are well below what they should be,” said a statement released by Endowment officials.

“At the same time, we know these young men are our greatest promise,” the statement went on to say.

Over 70-percent of all Californians under age 25 are identified as persons of color in the 2010 Census.

“Our future truly is in color. We won’t succeed without our sons and brothers,” stated Ludlow.