“If you want to get a sense of who Barack Obama is, look at the way in which he has come up with, supported, and stays with My Brother’s Keeper. This is something that matters to him.”—Broderick Johnson, MBK Alliance Advisory Council Chair
President Barack Obama’s signature program, “My Brother’s Keeper,” is moving forward with its mission to uplift and empower Black boys and young men of color — and with a renewed sense of purpose.
My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an initiative of the Obama Foundation, announced on Thursday the winners of its first MBK Community Challenge Competition.
The Foundation selected 19 organizations across 10 states and Puerto Rico as national models to expand initiatives to reduce youth violence, develop more effective mentorship programs, and significantly improve the lives of boys and young men of color.
“After an exhaustive application and review process we have identified a cohort of communities and organizations we believe can show the nation what it takes to build safe and supportive communities where boys and young men of color can thrive,” Michael D. Smith, Executive Director of MBK Alliance and Director of Youth Opportunity Programs at the Obama Foundation, said in a statement.
“The MBK Alliance team is committed to providing these communities with the tools, support, and access they need to accelerate impact that not only meets urgent needs today but that tackles the systemic barriers that prevent too many of our children from achieving their dreams,” Smith said.
The winning communities represent every region of the country and diverse communities, according to The Obama Foundation. Leaders from many of the organizations will participate in the Obama Foundation’s 2018 Summit in Chicago this weekend on November 18-19.
The National Impact Communities include, Boston, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Oakland.
The Obama Foundation said the winners will receive the following resources that include a two-year commitment led by MBK Alliance and partners to create recommendations, advise on a “Local Action Plan,” and develop long-term infrastructure to sustain the work; provide between $100,000 to $500,000 over two years for mentoring or youth violence prevention intervention and offer $50,000-$75,000 per year, for two years, in matching funds to hire MBK Alliance Community Coordinators.
The “National Seed Communities” are based in Atlanta, Fresno, California, Omaha, Nebraska, Richmond, California and Orlando, Florida.
These communities, according to The Obama Foundation, will receive access to MBK Alliance’s implementation and content partners to advise on overarching plan development and long-term infrastructure, to sustain the work and $25,000 to $50,000 to pilot interventions for violence prevention and/or mentoring programs.
“President Obama has said that he will be committed to the mission of “My Brother’s Keeper” for the rest of his life,” Broderick D. Johnson, MBK Alliance Advisory Council Chair, said.
“This investment we are announcing today into a range of communities across the country signifies this commitment. And it sends a message to leaders of all sectors—public and private; non-profit and corporations—that it will take action from everyone to ensure that all young people have every opportunity to achieve their dreams. Zip codes shouldn’t matter. Where some starts in life, shouldn’t matter. Race and ethnicity, shouldn’t matter.”
The MBK Community Challenge Competition comes as many Black men across the country are struggling to find work, have been victims of gang violence and want a better way of life, or who are motivated to attend college but can’t afford the tuition.
“There are going to be thousands, potentially millions, of the men – young men of color — whose lives are going to be enriched, whose lives will be better, and our nation will also be better as a result of MBK,” Johnson said in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Johnson said MBK offers people who lack access to resources a more hopeful future.
“You’ll see kids who will focus on and value their education more, they will be less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system, they’ll have greater educational opportunities and feel better about themselves and that is not something that I think can be discounted,” Johnson said.
Johnson served as Assistant to the President and the former White House Cabinet Secretary in the Obama administration. He understands Obama’s lasting commitment to MBK.
“This notion that you will have greater faith in your abilities; that you will be better able to deal with the harsh realities that you have to confront; there will be a sense of confidence that these young men feel and it’s really a direct result of President Obama’s decision,” Johnson said in the interview.
“It’s a reflection of how he grew up,” Johnson said of Obama, “The deficits he saw in his upbringing and his determination to lessen the possibility that other kids of color will have to deal with the same issues that he dealt with.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The MBK Alliance also announced Thursday it will host MBK Rising!, its first national convention. MBK Rising! will bring together the growing network of MBK Communities and boys and young men of color-focused organizations, young men of color, elected officials, and cross-sector leaders to join President Obama to celebrate progress, spotlight what’s working, and uplift the voices of youth.
The gathering will take place in Oakland, CA, in February 2019, marking the fifth anniversary of the initial launch of My Brother’s Keeper. My Brother’s Keeper Oakland and My Brother’s Keeper, My Sister’s Keeper San Francisco will co-chair the host committee.
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