President Obama received recommendations from his task force on the My Brother’s Keeper program, which is intended to support boys and young men of color through the education system and job market.
Obama said the recommendations are intended to address “the fact that we have too many young men of color — black boys and young men, Latino boys and young men — who are adrift and don’t have those same opportunities and don’t have those same structures of support.”
“And so what I did was assign a process for us to inventory everything that’s already being done to help young boys of color and men of color to succeed, to have every agency — from Justice Department to Education to HUD to USDA — look at how they could contribute to the process to make sure that we’ve got the best data possible, and then to report back to me so that we can have a plan of attack,” he added.
“…How do we modify policies in schools where young men of color are being disproportionally suspended — which we know results in higher dropout rates, which we know results potentially in them ending up in the prison system — all the way to how do we deal with young people who have gotten into trouble with the law but can be redeemed if we have effective ways of reaching them.”
The blueprint delivered to Obama includes eliminating suspensions and expulsions in preschool and launching a public-private campaign “to actively recruit mentors for youth and improve the quality of mentoring programs.” Another initiative would encourage “a reading culture in more homes” so kids are at grade level by the third grade while yet another would focus on increasing Advanced Placement classes and other opportunities to get ahead in schools.
“We’ve got businesses who are saying, we know this is going to be the workforce of the future, and if we do not address this demographic, our companies aren’t going to prosper and the American economy as a whole is not going to grow as quickly as it could,” Obama said.
The blueprint also calls for addressing “racial and ethnic bias within the juvenile and criminal justice systems” as well as trying to “transform” the schools that produce the most dropouts.
“I’m just reminded that I am only here because a bunch of folks invested in me. We’ve got a huge number of kids out there who have as much talent, and more talent than I had, but nobody is investing in them,” Obama said. “And I want to make sure that I use this platform, and every Cabinet member here wants to make sure that they use the tools that they’ve got, so that these young men, young boys, know somebody cares about them, somebody is thinking about them, and that they can succeed, and making America stronger as a consequence.”