Today, the Presidential Task Force for the White House initiative My Brother's Keeper, released a 90-day-snapshot of the program to date and provided President Obama with recommendations on how to go forward.
Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, the President’s Task Force has sourced thousands of opinion leaders from communities, cities, businesses, and faith-based organizations to identify policies and programs. It hopes to garner commitments to building mentoring and support systems to guide youth at the start of schooling and develop them with career skills to guide them away from the negative interactions with the juvenile and criminal justice systems and into a stronger middle class. In a statement made via the the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary, President Obama has said, “We are stronger when America fields a full team.”
The president met with his cabinet to discuss the Task Force’s initial assessments and recommendations, calling to action the American people support and engage in the initiative and sign up as mentors at WH.gov/mybrotherskeeper, and citing that nearly two-thirds of Black children and one-third of hispanic children live with on parent – increasing high school drop out rates by 75% and 96% respectively.
Developed based on a set of touch points centered on the advancement of youth education standards, the Task Force has identified a set of initial recommendations to the President in the form of its 90-Day Report, and a blueprint for action by its consulting partners from the initiative's committee. Focused on areas of action that can improve outcomes at these key moments, the recommendations include:
-Cross-Cutting Recommendations – Launch a public-private campaign to actively recruit mentors for youth and improve the quality of mentoring programs. Also, 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 President’s Task Force pledges that the 90-day report is only the starting point of a long-term effort, that will include players in the public, private, and philanthropic sectors. The following foundations are already seeking to collectively invest $200 million into the My Brother’s Keeper fund: 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.
To find out more about the My Brother’s Keeper Foundation and sign up to be a mentor, click here.
Ugi Ugwuomo is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. You can follow him on Twitter @rLfNowhere