Obama Unveils New Commitments in Support of My Brother's Keeper Initiative

By Julissa Catalan

President Barack Obama on Monday announced additional funding for the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.

“We want fewer young men in jail; we want more of them in college. We want fewer young men on the streets; we want more in the boardrooms. We want everybody to have a chance to succeed in America. And it’s possible if we’ve got the kind of team that we set up today,” President Obama said as part of a town hall at the Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C.

My Brother’s Keeper was announced in February as part of Obama’s plan to expand opportunities for all Americans. The initiative aims to close the racial gap in education so that more underrepresented youths can succeed.

Both public and private sectors announced monetary commitments totaling $104 million for the initiative.

Per the White House Blog:

  • The NBA, the National Basketball Players Association,andthe National Basketball Retired Players Associationannounced a five-year commitment in partnership withMENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, Team Turnaround, andthe Council of Great City Schools. The partnership will focus on recruiting new mentors and work with educators in at-risk schools to provide incentive programs that increase attendance and improve overall school performance.
  • AT&Tannounced an $18 million commitment to support mentoring and other education programs with a mentoring component.
  • Becoming A Man (B.A.M.)andMatchtutoring programs announced $10 million in new funding to expand to 3-5 new cities over the next three years and support a large-scale study on the programs’ long-term effects.
  • Along with their partners from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, the Emerson Collective, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, will collaborate with districts and educators to launch a competition to find and develop the best designs for next generation high schools. Together, they will contribute $50 million for this effort.
  • Citi Foundationis making a three-year, $10 million commitment to create ServiceWorks, a national program to help 25,000 young people in ten cities across the U.S. develop skills they need to prepare for college and careers.
  • Today,the leaders of 60 of the largest school systems in the country,which collectively educate nearly three million of America’s male students of color,have joined in an unprecedented pledge to change life outcomes of boys and young men of colorby better serving these students at every stage of their education.
  • The College Boardis investing more than $1.5 million for “All In,” a national College Board program to ensure that 100 percent of African American, Latino, and Native American students with strong AP potential enroll in at least one matched AP class before graduation.
  • Discovery Communicationswill invest more than $1 million to create an original independent special programming eventtoeducate the public about issues related to boys and men of color and address negative public perceptions of them.

The President also announced that over half of the nation’s largest school districts are joining his initiative, with programs ranging from preschool through high school.

According to The New York Times, these districts include 40 percent of all Black and Latino boys living in poverty. The institutions have committed to expand quality preschool access; track data on Black and Latino boys so educators can intervene as soon as signs of struggle emerge; increase the number of boys of color who take gifted, honors or Advanced Placement courses and exams; work to reduce the number of underrepresented boys who are suspended or expelled; and increase graduation rates among Black and Latino boys.

Earlier this month, President Obama introduced Excellent Educators for All, another attempt at closing the education gap for underrepresented youths. This initiative is being implemented by executive action without the approval of Congress.

Watch the President’s address below.

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