President Obama will launch a significant new effort Thursday to bolster the lives of young minority men, seeking to use the power of the presidency to help a group of Americans whose lives are disproportionately affected by poverty and prison.
The “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative will bring foundations and companies together to test a range of strategies to support such young men, taking steps to keep them in school and out of the criminal justice system, a White House official said. Obama will also announce a more vigorous program to evaluate policies and publicize results to school systems around the country.
The effort will seek “to make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential,” the White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement. “The initiative will be focused on implementing strategies that are proven to get results.”
Obama had promised to launch a new project focused on young minority men during his State of the Union address last month. His focus on a relatively narrow demographic group is unusual for a president who usually stresses how his policies affect large swaths of the American public. It also comes after the first African American president has faced repeated criticism from those who say he is failing to pay enough attention to blacks and other minorities.
The initiative is the latest sign that Obama plans to address such issues more directly in his second term. Last month, Obama and the first lady hosted a forum at the White House to persuade colleges to recruit more low-income Americans. And last year, the Justice Department overhauled drug-sentencing guidelines so that low-level and nonviolent offenders do not face stiff minimum sentences.