Six months since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper — the president’s boldest effort since taking office to address the dire state of young minority men — Obama is set to announce that millions are being dedicated to expanding the initiative.
According to a White House official, Obama will announce Monday at the Walker Jones Education Center in Washington new partnerships with public and private groups to the tune of about $104 million. That money will help this demographic succeed at critical stages throughout their lives – from early education to college and career.
Young minority men generally faces some of the worst social, academic and economic outcomes in the country.
“Tomorrow’s announcements are an important next step in continuing to build ladders of opportunity for all and to highlight the President’s commitment to ensuring that all children have a fair shot to succeed in this country,” a White House official said.
The new private partner organizations include the NBA and NBA’s player and retired players association, AT&T, the Emerson Collective, The College Board, Citi Foundation, and Discovery Communications.
Obama assembled the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force and charged them with spending the next few months combing through data and best practices in preparation for a massive scaling-up of national efforts.
The administration convened some of the wealthiest foundations and philanthropists in the country and secured about $200 million to identify and bolster efforts that are working nationally to help boys and men of color while also developing new strategies. The efforts center around disrupting what many in the philanthropic space refer to as the cradle-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately siphons off minority boys from as early as pre-Kindergarten.
The NBA groups have pledged support for a new public service campaign primarily designed to recruit 25,000 minority male mentors. AT&T has pledged $18 million this year to support mentoring and educational programs as part of a broader $350 million commitment targeted at students at risk of dropping out of school. The Emerson Collective has committed $50 million to work with school districts to launch a competition to find the best designs for high schools of the future.
The College Board will invest more than $1.5 million for an initiative called “All In,” a program to help ensure that 100% of African-American, Latino and Native-American students with strong advanced placement potential are enrolled in AP classes before graduation.
The Citi Foundation is committing $10 million over the next three years to create a national volunteer program to help 25,000 young people in 10 cities across the country develop college and career readiness skills. And Discovery Communications will invest more than $1 million to create original programming to breakdown stereotypes and negative public perception of boys and men of color.
The Chicago-based Becoming A Man program, which consists mostly of black boys and was instrumental in spurring Obama to take bold new action aimed at at-risk boys following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, pledged an additional $10 million in new funding to My Brother’s Keeper.
The new partnerships and funding also includes a number of government agencies and efforts. The Corporation for National and Community Service and the Department of Justice will jointly fund a $10 million, three year AmeriCorps program to enroll disconnected youth. And the USDA will be teaming up with AmeriCorps to offer $3.8 million to give youth opportunities to help restore the nation’s forests and grasslands.
In May, the task force released its first report to the president, in which they outlined a broad set of guiding principles and recommendations. The recommendations include launching a national mentor-recruiting campaign, eliminating suspensions and expulsions of preschoolers, encouraging a culture of reading at home, and growing youth summer programs and pre-apprenticeships.
The President’s effort to help young minority men and boys is one that White House officials say will be central to the president and First Lady’s life after leaving office. But that effort hasn’t gone without controversy. Many critics have wondered how much vigor will be put into the program once Obama leaves office, and if it will survive the next administration. And several prominent African-American men and women have criticized the administration for not including girls of color who also face disproportionately bad outcomes. Others balked at the initial $200 million commitment, arguing that the great issues facing minority boys requires maximum resources.
The administration and funders of My Brother’s Keeper have said time and again that the efforts toward minority men and boys is based on empirical data that highlights this group as the most effected on many key indicators, including incarceration, poverty and violent crime rates.
“I think that the desire to focus on black men and boys really grew out of smaller groups of people coming together to say, this situation has grown so dire, particularly around violence that has affected our young men in communities and this cradle to prison pipeline,” Cedric Brown, managing partner at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, told msnbc recently. “This isn’t a matter of trying to order the priorities necessarily. The question is how do we build something that’s parallel or combined, how can we have these movements run adjacent to one another and build upon one another.”
Brown, whose organization was among the group of original My Brother’s Keeper funders, said the initiative has raised the volume and level of discourse around the plight of boys of color.
“It gave a sense of urgency around needing to get a plan, a framework together and out there and moving forward in a way that was going to be responsive to real issues that young men are facing in communities and not going to be more talk not going to be another blue-ribbon panel, but this was actually going to work,” Brown said. “This was actually going to change things and get us as a nation on the road to increasing the opportunities of men and boys of color.”