Obama to Launch 'My Brother's Keeper' as Independent Organization
My Brother's Keeper, a key initiative of Obama's administration, was launched in 2014 to address the needs of boys and men of color. In launching a non-profit organization separate from the White House, Obama is preparing to continue those efforts when he leaves office.
The announcement is especially timely as tensions in Baltimore this week surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who was injured in police custody, have stoked conversations about poverty, race, and the unmet needs of young people. In remarks to the media this week, Obama urged a focus on broader issues in addition to police reform. He also alluded to My Brother's Keeper.
"If we are serious about solving this problem, then we're going to not only have to help the police, we're going to think about what can we do, the rest of us, to make sure that we're providing early education to these kids to make sure that we're reforming our criminal justice system so it's not just a pipeline from schools to prisons," Obama said.
My Brother's Keeper has encouraged interagency efforts, public-private partnerships, and work at the local level to address issues like disproportionate rates of school discipline for black boys and mentorship programs.
More than $300 million has now been committed to the White House from the private sector in grants, in-kind contributions, or other resources, according to a first year progress report released earlier this year. And more than 200 mayors, tribal chiefs, and county executives from across the country have signed on to the compact and have taken concrete steps to address cradle-to-career opportunities for boys of color and address issues of equity, according to the report.
The president had given some indication that he planned to continue focusing on issues related to boys of color after he leaves the White House, including in a meeting with big-city superintendents and school leaders who met with him in March to discuss progress on the boys-of-color initiatives they were implementing in their school districts.
District of Columbia schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who was among those leaders, said the president made it clear to them that "My Brother's Keeper would not end when he left the White House, but that this, in fact, is work that he will continue after his presidency because this is an important priority for him."
Many organizations that were involved in the initial formation of My Brother's Keeper will remain involved when it spins off as an organization of its own, independent of the White House, Yahoo News reports.
My Brother's Keeper has drawn criticism from some who argue that girls of color should be included in the effort.