Three months after launching My Brother’s Keeper, the White House is focused on narrowing the reading gap, increasing universal pre-K and reforming school discipline standards.
“No matter who you are, or where you came from—or the circumstances into which you are born—if you work hard, if you take responsibility, then you can make it in this country.”
President Barack Obama spoke those words in February when he announced his My Brother’s Keeper initiative, focused on empowering and improving the lives of young men of color.
And though heartfelt and ambitious, the announcement of the initiative was met with mixed reactions. For many in the African-American community—which remains the president’s most loyal constituency—the initiative was too little too late.
But in his second term, the president is proving to be more brazen about forming new alliances. And with My Brother’s Keeper, the man who stood in the Rose Garden and said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” is now placing political capital behind a program to assist young black men who, with the right investment, could grow up to become president of the United States.
On Friday Obama announced that former NBA all-star and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson, along with Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte Consulting, will help lead an effort to recruit more private-sector partners to participate in the initiative.
The White House also released the initial findings of the task force set up to implement the initiative, and as a first step is calling on Americans from all walks of life to aid in the president’s goal by pledging to mentor in their communities. The call for mentors is a key part of a series of recommendations, following three months of discussions with public- and private-sector groups that work directly with young men of color.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, noted Thursday that nearly two-thirds of black children and one-third of Hispanic youths live with only one parent. The White House cites research suggesting that a father’s absence increases the risk of his children dropping out of school by 75 percent and 96 percent, respectively, for blacks and Hispanics.
According to the Department of Education, 86 percent of African-American and 82 percent of Hispanic and Native American boys read below proficiency by the time they reach fourth grade. Thehigh school graduation rate among African-American males was 52 percent in 2010 and 58 percent for young Hispanic men, compared with 78 percent for young white men.
Source: The Root | EDWARD WYCKOFF WILLIAMS