Ten foundations have announced that they will invest at least $200 million over five years as part of My Brother's Keeper, a White House initiative to expand opportunity for boys and young men of color.
Each of the ten foundations — the California Endowment, Atlantic and Bloomberg philanthropies, and the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Knight, Robert Wood Johnson, Kellogg, and Open Society foundations, along with the Kapor Center for Social Impact — has pledged $750,000 to fund the initial work. Many also are members of the Executives' Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color, a coalition of funders committed to leveraging philanthropy's role in improving life outcomes for boys and men of color. The $200 million in new commitments is in addition to programmatic investments totaling some $150 million that the foundations have already made.
Over the next ninety days, the foundations will design a strategy and infrastructure for coordinating their investments with commitments from other funders and the business community and identifying and scaling the most promising solutions. Areas of focus will include boosting early child development and school readiness, strengthening parenting and parent engagement, school discipline reform, providing access to jobs and economic opportunity, and supporting healthy families and communities.
In addition to the foundations' efforts, President Obama has created an interagency task force to evaluate the effectiveness of public and private efforts and develop best practices for federal and local governments, community organizations, and businesses. An online "What Works" portal will provide the public with access to data about programs that improve outcomes for young minority men.
"All of our sons and brothers need support and opportunities to be successful," said Robert K. Ross, president of the California Endowment, which last October committed $50 million over seven years to boost third-grade reading scores, high school graduation rates, and the number of postsecondary certificates awarded. "As tomorrow's leaders, young people of color will help define America's future. Now is the time to work together, invest in these young people, and provide them what they need to be responsible and healthy adults."
"Many men of color are already working to make their communities better by helping young people reach their full potential," said Alberto Ibargüen, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. "They are truly assets to any community, and one of the best ways to help young men succeed is to invest in, connect, and celebrate these grassroots leaders who are already making a difference."