The PJ Tatler

Obama Launching Initiative to Expand Opportunity for Young Men of Color

This afternoon, President Obama will announce the My Brother’s Keeper initiative designed to “help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead.”

“For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color. But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success. The President wants to build on that work. We can learn from communities that are partnering with local businesses and foundations to connect these boys and young men to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. And the Administration will do its part by helping to identify and promote programs that work,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the project.

The initiative will include early-childhood nutrition and education programs with a focus later in life on keeping these students in school and partnering with communities and police “to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer.”

Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort led by Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson.

Joining Obama today will be Colin Powell, Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg.

Obama will also meet with a number of business leaders – including Joe Echevarria of Deloitte, Magic Johnson of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Partners, Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association and Thomas Tull of Legendary Entertainment – “to discuss ways in which they and their companies can work with the Initiative to improve the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.”

“Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career. For instance, large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels. Additionally, the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system alone is a perilous drag on state budgets, and undermines family and community stability. These young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their white peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year,” the White House said.

“The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans.”