Launched in February with the support of investments totaling $200 million over five years from eleven foundations, the public-private partnership aims to identify and remove the barriers to success in academics and life that many boys and young men of color growing up in poverty face. A ninety-day progress report, My Brother's Keeper Task Force Report to the President (61 pages, PDF), provides a set of initial recommendations to the White House, such as making the status and progress of boys and young men of color and other populations more visible by improving data collection and transparency, and launching a public-private campaign to actively recruit mentors for youth.
Recommendations specific to the initiative's focus areas include implementing universal early health and developmental screenings to ensure a healthy start; closing the "word gap" by increasing reading time outside of school; focusing on transforming "dropout factories"; investing in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, and job training; and addressing racial/ethnic biases within the juvenile and criminal justice systems and removing unnecessary barriers to successful reentry and employment.
Recognizing the importance of parents and other caring adults to children's success, President Obama called on Americans interested in getting involved in My Brother's Keeper to sign up as long-term mentors to young people. Obama, who discussed the report with his cabinet and met with the task force last week, said he was pleased with progress to date, the Associated Press reports. At the same time, he noted that the final goal would be to "put in place not only an all-hands-on-deck effort on the federal level, but a partnership with the private sector so that we can see some concrete outcomes." Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson, along with Deloitte LLP chief executive Joe Echevarria, will help lead an "external push to get more folks on board."
The foundations leading the philanthropic effort are the California Endowment, Atlantic and Bloomberg philanthropies, and the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Knight, Nathan Cummings, Robert Wood Johnson, Kellogg, and Open Society foundations, along with the Kapor Center for Social Impact.
"In the coming week we will release a summary of our own blueprint outlining how philanthropy and the private sector, in partnership with the public sector, can give more of our young men the opportunities and tools to become successful adults, improve the environments that profoundly shape their lives, and replace the barriers that stand in their way with pathways toward success," the foundations said in a joint statement. "The report will also identify initial steps that our foundations are taking to fulfill this vision and highlight how young men and boys of color are already contributing to this nation. We are eager to explore the White House’s recommendations, and look forward to opportunities for partnership and alignment."