Email from Broderick Johnson on the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance

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Today, I will join President Obama as he travels to Lehman College in the Bronx, NY to speak about the importance of expanding opportunity and to applaud a new private-sector entity — the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.A group of private-sector leaders and other prominent private citizens, led by Joe Echevarria (the former CEO of Deloitte LLP) have come together to form this new, independent non-profit. Joined by a diverse range of philanthropic, community, and private-sector partners, leaders of the Alliance are pledging to work to expand opportunity for youth, strengthen the American workforce, and fortify the economic stability of communities across America.

The Alliance will join other private-sector organizations all across America to focus on expanding opportunity and tearing down barriers facing our youth so that we can truly say the American Dream is available to all.

Meanwhile, at the White House, the work of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Task Force, which it is my honor to chair, will continue to move forward on the work the President has charged us with. We will continue — with great urgency — to disseminate best practices, strengthen federal policy, and implement strategies to support communities in their efforts to expand opportunity for all youth.

When President Obama first announced the My Brother’s Keeper initiative from the East Room of the White House in February 2014, he framed it as a call to action for every American to recognize that “my neighbor’s child is my child” — that each of us has an obligation to give every child the same chance this country has given so many of us.

Over the past year, foundations, corporations, small business owners, educators, philanthropies, law enforcement, artists, athletes, and all levels of government from across the country have responded with remarkable energy and resolve, and they have announced an array of fresh initiatives to attack the challenges facing our youth in new ways.

Over the course of the Administration, we have made consistent progress on important goals, such as reducing high school dropout rates and lowering unemployment and crime.

Yet persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes, and career skills remain, barring too many youth from realizing their full potential, and creating harmful social and economic costs to our nation.

Over the past year, we already have made progress addressing the central goals originally laid out by the President’s MBK Task Force to ensure that all young people enter school ready to learn, all young people are reading at grade level by the third grade, all youth are graduating from high school ready for college and career, all youth are completing postsecondary education or training, all young people are successfully entering the workforce, and all young people are safe from violence and provided the second chances they deserve.

Here are some examples on how we are working to achieve these goals:

Beyond the work of the President’s MBK Task Force, there are now more than 200 communities that have accepted the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, committing to launching Local Action Plans with bold goals and strategies to produce results that will bridge opportunity gaps.

And, since the President’s call to action in February 2014, nearly $500 million in grants and in-kind resources have been independently committed by the private sector to attack the challenges facing our youth in new ways and expand opportunity, including a $100 million announcement just last week from Equal Opportunity Schools and its partners to increase enrollment of low-income and minority students in advance courses.

For so many of us, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative is deeply personal. As a proud son of Baltimore, this week’s announcement comes at a time of unique and special resonance for me.

As the country reflects on our shared responsibility to ensure that opportunity reaches every young person, I urge everyone to look at their own capacity to make a difference. Whether it’s taking time to mentor, tutoring young people in your neighborhood, or creating new internship or apprenticeship opportunities for young people in your community — everyone can play a role in building a brighter future.

The President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative is about recognizing that our young people are not the problem, but rather the solution. And it’s about each of us seeing our neighbor’s child as our own. Their futures as individuals, and as members of a shared community and economy, are forever tied together.

As we move further into the fourth quarter of President Obama’s time in office, our entire team is following his lead and preparing to accomplish as much as we possibly can with the MBK Task Force. And as leaders like Joe Echevarria, MBK Alliance honorary chair John Legend, and their colleagues take initiative to respond to the challenges facing our youth in new ways — big and small, locally and nationally — I share the President’s confidence that we will begin to see a future come into focus that is increasingly inclusive, empowering, and rich with opportunity for all Americans.

We welcome the newly organized My Brother’s Keeper Alliance to this work, and look forward to the progress they will help build.

Broderick Johnson Chair, My Brother’s Keeper Task Force The White House

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MBK: One-Year Progress Report to the President


Office of the Press Secretary


March 5, 2015


My Brother’s Keeper Task Force: One-Year Progress Report to the President

On February 27, 2014, President Barack Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) and issued a powerful call to action to close opportunity gaps still faced by too many young people, and often by boys and young men of color in particular. The President’s announcement encouraged candid dialogues around the country and a greater sense of responsibility among community leaders, and young people themselves to put all youth in a position to thrive, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Over the course of the past year, efforts have advanced along three areas of focus based on the goals laid out in the MBK Presidential Memorandum: state and local engagement, private sector action – independent nonprofit, philanthropic and corporate action; and Public Policy review and reform. The report being released today provides an update on all three approaches over the course of a year since the MBK launch. You can find the full report HERE.


State and Local Engagement: The MBK Community Challenge

Since late September 2014, nearly 200 mayors, tribal leaders, and county executives across 43 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the MBK Community Challenge in partnership with more than 2,000 individual community-based allies. These “MBK Communities” are working with leading experts in youth and community development to design and implement cradle-to-college-and-career action plans. Within six months of accepting the Challenge, MBK Communities commit to review local public policy, host action summits, and start implementing their locally tailored action plans to address opportunity gaps. MBK Communities are provided with technical assistance to develop, implement and track plans of action from both federal agencies and independent organizations with related expertise.


Challenge acceptors (full list) include:

  • The nation’s five largest cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.
  • Small cities and towns, including Prichard, AL, Berea, OH, Carlisle, PA, Holly Hill, SC, and Ranson, WV.
  • Cities with some of the highest African American populations, including Detroit, Birmingham and Washington, DC.
  • Cities with some of the highest Hispanic populations, including San Francisco, Dallas, Miami and Phoenix.
  • Seventeen Tribal Nations, including the Cherokee, Cheyenne River, Hoonah and Navajo tribal nations.


Private-Sector Action: Business, Philanthropy and Nonprofit Action

Foundations, businesses, and social enterprises have responded to the President’s call to action by taking steps to ensure that communities have the support they need and by providing funding and advice for aligned national initiatives. More than $300 million in grants and in-kind resources have been independently committed already to advance the mission of MBK, including  investments in safe and effective schools, mentoring programs, juvenile justice reforms, and school redesign. For example, the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) is coordinating the leaders of 63 of the largest urban school systems in the country in a pledge to change life outcomes by better serving students at every stage of their education; Prudential announced a commitment of $13 million to support technical assistance for MBK Communities as well as impact investments for innovative for-profit and nonprofit social purpose enterprises that eliminate barriers to financial and social mobility; and on Christmas Day 2014, the NBA launched a public service announcement and campaign in partnership with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to recruit 25,000 new mentors over the next five years.


Policy: The Federal Response

The MBK Task Force, an interagency working group of representatives of over ten agencies across the Federal government,  has encouraged and tracked implementation of the recommendations outlined in the initial 90-day report issued in May. Those efforts have led to greater focus on federal investments that support evidence-based interventions. For example, grant programs, like the Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Initiative and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, harness federal resources to create clearer pathways to success by helping youth build both work and life skills. Public-private partnerships like Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps, School Turnaround AmeriCorps and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps are working with the Corporation for National and Community Service to engage underserved youth in service that has the potential to transform their lives and the communities they serve. Similarly, the Departments of Education and Justice issued Correctional Education guidance to help to ensure that incarcerated youth have the full protection of existing laws and benefits. The federal government has also advanced its efforts to track quality data for boys and young men of color and their peers.

Through MBK, this Administration will continue to improve transparency and accountability to address persistent opportunity gaps at every level and improve outcomes for all young people to ensure they have the opportunity to succeed.


You can find the full report HERE



FACT SHEET & REPORT: Opportunity for All: My Brother’s Keeper Blueprint for Action

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

FACT SHEET & REPORT: Opportunity for All: My Brother’s Keeper Blueprint for Action

The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report to the President can be found HERE.

Over the past five years, the hard work and grit of the American people pulled our economy back from the brink of collapse. We are now moving forward again. But there is more work to do, and for decades opportunity has lagged behind for some, including millions of boys and young men of color. Boys of color are too often born into poverty and live with a single parent. And while their gains contributed to the national high school graduation rate reaching an all-time high, in some school districts dropout rates remain high. Too many of these boys and young men will have negative interactions with the juvenile and criminal justice system, and the dream of a college education is within grasp for too few. Our society can and will do more to help remove barriers to all young people’s success, because America prospers not only when hard work and responsibility are rewarded but also when we all pull forward together.

Rebuilding that core American value—community—is why the President launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative designed to determine what works to help young people stay on track to reach their full potential.

The Administration is doing its part by identifying programs and policies that work, and recommending action that will help all our young people succeed. Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, the President’s Task Force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans, through online and in-person listening sessions, who are already taking action. Cities and towns, businesses, foundations, faith leaders and individuals have made commitments to helping youth get a strong start in school and life and later connect them to mentoring, support networks and specialized skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. As President Obama has said, “We are stronger when America fields a full team.”

Today, the President met with his Cabinet to discuss the Task Force’s initial assessments and recommendations and the President called on the American people to get engaged through mentorship opportunities nationwide.

Call to Action

The President is calling on Americans interested in getting involved in My Brother’s Keeper to sign up as long-term mentors to young people at This effort will engage Americans from all walks of life to sign up to develop sustained and direct mentoring relationships that will play vital roles in the lives of young people.

It is important that all children have caring adults who are engaged in their lives. But too many young people lack this support. For example, roughly two-thirds of Black and one-third of Hispanic children live with only one parent. Moreover, research suggests that a father’s absence increases the risk of his child dropping out of school among Blacks and Hispanics by 75 percent and 96 percent respectively. We see significant high school dropout rates—as high as 50 percent in some school districts—including among boys and young men from certain Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander populations. And some 27 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in poverty, compared to 11.6% of White Americans.

Presidential Task Force 90-Day Report

As part of its 90-day report, the Task Force has identified a set of initial recommendations to the President, and a blueprint for action by government, business, non-profit, philanthropic, faith and community partners.

In developing its recommendations, the Task Force identified key milestones in the path to adulthood that are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact:

  1. Getting a healthy start and entering school ready to learn;
  2. Reading by third grade;
  3. Graduating from high school ready for college and career;
  4. Completing post-secondary education or training;
  5. Entering the workforce;
  6. Keeping kids on track and giving them second chances.

By focusing on these key moments, and helping our young people avoid roadblocks that hinder progress across life stages, we can help ensure that all children and young people have the tools they need to build successful lives. Focused on areas of action that can improve outcomes at these key moments, the President’s Task Force today presented him with recommendations including:

Cross-Cutting Recommendations

  • Launch a public-private campaign to actively recruit mentors for youth and improve the quality of mentoring programs.
  • Make the status and progress of boys and young men of color and other populations more visible by improving data collection and transparency.

A Healthy Start and Ready for School

  • Eliminate suspensions and expulsions in preschool and other early learning settings.

Reading at Grade Level by the End of Third Grade

  • Close the word gap by launching a public and private initiative to increase joint and independent reading time outside of school and build a reading culture in more homes.

Graduating from High School

  • Increase focus on transforming the schools and districts producing the majority of the country’s dropouts.

Completing Post-Secondary Education or Training

  • Increase college completion by expanding students’ access to and successful completion of rigorous courses, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment options in high school.

Entering the Workforce

  • Increase awareness about youth summer employment and use of pre-apprenticeships as good entry-level jobs.

Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance

  • Institutionalize community oriented policing practices in the field and employ methods to address racial and ethnic bias within the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

The recommendations identified by the President’s Task Force mark the starting point of what must and will be a long-term effort. The Task Force and public, private and philanthropic actors will continue to develop recommendations and support community solutions well beyond this 90-day progress report.

In addition to today’s announcements, in coming weeks and months, leading foundations will independently announce specific commitments to help ensure young people can succeed. The following foundations will together seek to invest at least $200 million: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Kapor Center for Social Impact, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

HBCUs are My Brother’s Keeper

By: Ivory A. Toldson, Deputy Director, The White House Initiative on HBCUs

One out of every 10 Black males who are enrolled in college attends an HBCU.  Research demonstrates that HBCU graduates enjoy greater financial success in their careers, and U.S. rankings consistently show that HBCUs are among the top producers of students who continue their educations through graduate and professional schools.  However, a myriad of social factors, as revealed in the Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study, disrupt the best efforts to recruit, retain and graduate Black male college students.

Systemic inequities and racial biases within schools systems are contributing to Black males being overrepresented in the colleges with open admissions standards, including community colleges and for-profit colleges, and underrepresented at colleges and universities with selective admissions standards, including many HBCUs.  Black males currently comprise 39 percent of all HBCU students.  Today, of the 1.2 million Black males currently enrolled in college, more than 529,000 (43 percent) are attending community colleges, compared to only 11 percent who attend HBCUs.  Another 11 percent of Black males attend for-profit universities, such as the University of Phoenix, which as a single institution enrolls the largest number of Black males in the nation. 

The Pipeline from Secondary Education to HBCUs for Black Males

In the current educational environment, even our most gifted Black males with the most dedicated parents can leave high school underprepared.  Often, students with very low GPA, low ACT/SAT scores, and key math and science classes omitted, have difficulty gaining acceptance to traditional 4-year institutions.

Today, approximately 258,047 of the 4.1 million ninth graders in the United States are Black males.  Among them, about 23,000 are receiving special education services, and for nearly 46,000, a health care professional or school official has told them that they have at least one disability.  If Black male ninth graders follow current trends, about half of them will not graduate with their current ninth grade class, about 20 percent will reach the age of 25 without obtaining a high school diploma or GED, 45 percent of Black males will attempt college, however only 16 percent obtain a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25.

In 2012, the Department of Education released the Civil Rights Data Collection (pdf) report. The study suggests that opportunity gaps that exist between Black and White males across the country center around three key areas: (1) Schools routinely offer Black children a less rigorous curriculum that omit classes required for college admission; (2) Schools discipline Black males more harshly by suspending them for behaviors (e.g. tardiness) that rarely result in suspensions among White males; and (3) Black students are the most likely to have the lowest paid teachers with the fewest years of classroom experience, and who become teachers through alternative teacher certification programs.

Recent evidence suggests that most Black males persist through high school and aspire to attend college at rates that exceed White and Hispanic males.  In a national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 87 percent of Black students who were in the 9th grade in 2009 were in the 11th grade by 2012. In addition, Black students were more likely to advance ahead than fall behind or drop out.  About 64 percent of Black high school males expect to eventually graduate from college.  However, Black students are behind their peers in the percent who are taking college preparatory classes.  Fifty-three percent of Asian students, 24 percent of White students, 16 percent of Hispanic students, and 12 percent of Black students are taking pre-calculus or calculus by the 11th grade.

HBCUs and My Brother’s Keeper

HBCUs have the potential to play a major role in expanding college access to school-age Black males.  However, HBCUs need coordinated and proactive strategies to disrupt a system that underprepares Black males for postsecondary education and restricts their higher education options to the least competitive institutions of higher education. HBCU leaders should be active in crafting policy solutions for HBCUs to resolve inequities in U.S. public schools that impede academic progress of school-age Black males.  HBCU students can change the public perception that school-age Black males are disaffected and incapable of adapting to the educational system.  HBCU academic affairs administrators can promote a pathway through AP classes that can help Black males transition from public schools to colleges and universities. Through teacher education programs and trainings, HBCUs can examine the impact of teacher preparation on the academic achievement of Black males and aid in breaking the discipline gap barrier in our nation’s schools.

In February 2014, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color break barriers and get ahead.  The initiative surveys and builds on the work of communities and institutions that are adopting approaches to promote success among males of color.  Many HBCUs have initiatives that can contribute to the national agenda to help Black males to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build successful lives for themselves and their families.

The White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHIHBCUs) will work with the HBCU community and the Interagency Task Force that will oversee My Brother’s Keeper to do the following:

  • Use research and programs published by HBCU scholars to recommend Federal policies, regulations, and programs that would benefit boys and young men of color and innovative strategies and practices for providing opportunities to and improving lives for Black males.
  • Survey HBCU male initiatives to contribute to the administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate successful programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
  • Confer with HBCU researchers and administrators to recommend critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color for a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education.
  • Connect HBCU administrators and scholars to the philanthropic and corporate partners of My Brother’s Keeper so that they can learn how to access the revenue necessary to start and sustain programs for boys and young men of color.

To achieve these objectives, in February 2014, the WHIHBCUs began a series of sessions to bring together students, educators, policymakers and other interested in the advancement of Black males to discuss key policies and strategies for increasing their college preparation, recruitment, retention and graduation.  The goal is to promote the academic success of Black males at HBCUs through leadership, scholarship and civic engagement.  The first session was in Charlotte, NC, with additional sessions planned for Little Rock, Philadelphia, Memphis, and New Orleans.  In addition, the WHIHBCU student ambassadors (aka HBCU All-Stars) have participated in conferences calls with the Administration to instruct them on how to facilitate our priorities to uplift boys and young men of color, on a grassroots level.

The WHIHBCUs look forward to working with HBCUs students, faculty and staff, as well as HBCU advocacy groups and the media to demonstrate that HBCUs are “My Brother’s Keeper.”