When President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in February, the response from communities across the country was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. We quickly began hearing stories of creativity, collaboration, and triumphs from community leaders and organizations doing grassroots work to enhance opportunities for boys and young men of color. Some organizations, having done this work for a while, shared what types of programs and coordinated efforts they have seen work through the years, while others have responded to the President’s call to action with new initiatives and commitments of their own.
We heard from a financial services firm in Long Beach, California which has partnered with an 8th grade mentoring program to arrange field trips to their office. Students fill out applications, interview with managers, and go through mock hiring processes. They are then connected with mentors, and offered serious rewards (like laptops) when they reach GPA goals set by the company.
We heard about Marc, a young father in Oakland who graduated from a local program which places parents of young children in playgroups. It also provides them with classes that teach the importance of attachment, positive discipline strategies, and early literacy. “I learned how important it is to read to your baby,” Marc explained. “I also learned about Early Head Start and health services I did not have before.”
In upstate New York, a non-profit has committed to invest in 10 local high school freshmen every year, providing them with mentors, academic tutoring, PSAT and SAT training, and other help with college preparation. Of their 28 high school students, 22 are on the honor role.
There was a phrase repeated by a handful of organizations who submitted stories which underscores the importance of this effort: “Talent is everywhere. Opportunity is not.” Together, we have the power to change that, and the responsibility to ensure that opportunity is within reach of all Americans.
If you are doing work in your community to help create opportunity for youth boys and young men of color, please share your story with us HERE, and stay tuned as we prepare to hold listening sessions with leading foundations, community leaders, elected officials, faith organizations, and non-profits in a handful of cities around the country. We are looking to continue this discussion, while highlighting the outstanding work being done in countless communities on behalf of the boys and young men who will shape our future.
For more information: