President Obama Launches My Brother's Keeper Alliance
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

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(Image: File)

He also spoke highly of police departments across the nation, saying, “The overwhelming majority of police officers are good and honest and fair, and care deeply about their communities.” He acknowledged that their job is a tough one: “They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” and asked for prayer for police across the nation, especially in light of the death just that morning of NYPD Officer Brian Moore, who had been shot in the line of duty Saturday night.

An OutGrowth of My Brother’s Keeper

In February 2014, the president started the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to address persistent obstacles faced by boys and young men of color and to ensure that all youth can reach their full potential. That initiative led to conversations with business leaders who felt the need to take greater action. One of those leaders, Echevarria, has been leading the effort to form MBK Alliance with a group of like-minded peers. In the meantime, the work of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force at the White House continues. It is led by Broderick Johnson.

The Economic Case for Taking on This Mission

According to an MBK Alliance fact sheet, the obstacles that exclude and oppress boys and young men of color also burden the American economy:

  • A single disconnected young man (unemployed and not in school) costs society nearly $1 million over his lifetime.
  • High school graduates pay more taxes, draw less from social welfare programs, and are less likely to commit crimes than dropouts.
  • Research shows that closing gaps between young men of color and their peers could increase the annual GDP by as much as $2.1 trillion.

The MBK Alliance intends to support program interventions targeting six key life milestones:

  1. Entering school ready to learn (early childhood)
  2. Reading at grade level by third grade (middle childhood)
  3. Graduating from high school ready for college and career (adolescence)
  4. Completing post-secondary education or training (adulthood transition)
  5. Successfully entering the workforce (adulthood)
  6. Reducing violence and providing a second chance (throughout life)

My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Leadership

MBK Alliance’s diverse group of leaders includes a veritable who’s who of CEOs from Fortune 50 companies, high-profile entertainers, leading nonprofits, and current and former government officials, including Debra Lee, CEO of BET; John Legend; Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club; and John Rogers, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments.

Its board of advisors includes Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State; Sen. Cory Booker; and Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General. The organization is also working with social enterprise partners such as United Way and Urban Institute.

In addition, a combined total of more than $80 million in in-kind and financial donations have been committed to the MBK Alliance from businesses such as American Express, Aspen Institute, News Corp., and PepsiCo.

The president disclosed that the work of MBK Alliance will be his life’s work. He said the nonprofit would work to create “opportunity for everyone. We can’t guarantee everybody’s success, but we do strive to guarantee an equal shot for everybody who’s willing to work for it.”

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