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My Brother's Keeper Alliance: Going Beyond Media, Beyond Government

Sara Matthew, policy associate for the Forum, was on hand at last week's announcement of My Brother's Keeper Alliance. She shares her thoughts about being one of the privileged few to be in the room during the announcement.

It was exciting to be in the room last week when the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance was unveiled in New York. This corporate-backed organization will focus on eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps for boys and young men of color (BYMOC). Over the next three years, the nonprofit organization aims to improve the lives of more than 275,000 boys and young men.

There was an electrifying feeling among the 60-plus of us on hand for the announcement at Lehman College in the Bronx. The Forum for Youth Investment is an MBK Alliance partner and one of the organizations contributing to the creation of the playbook – a tool introducing the business value of supporting BYMOC, along with a guide to drive that support.

What generated that excitement for me? Two things:

  1. This goes beyond government. Due to the fact that this organization is corporate-based, it isn’t subject to the ever-changing priorities that affect government-run organizations and initiatives. There will be no yearly battles over line items in the federal budget.
  2. This goes beyond Ferguson, Baltimore, et al. There is evident truth behind the words President Obama shared during the alliance announcement, “there are consequences to inaction…” The media coverage stemming from the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray have focused national attention on critical issues of race and poverty in American communities. But the Alliance will extend far beyond the days and weeks of news coverage, exploring the root causes of the challenges faced by BYMOC, and advancing long-term solutions that cut across all communities.

The Alliance announced three initiatives:

  • Playbook for Corporations and Businesses – MBK Alliance developed a comprehensive guide to mobilize the private sector in addressing key obstacles facing young men of color;
  • Innovation Grants – MBK Alliance will disperse up to $7 million in grants to programs and organizations with proven, innovative intervention programs; and
  • Community Grants Competition – MBK Alliance will create a $15-25 million grants competition to reward up to nine communities with $3 million to build local infrastructure and capacity.

The work of this organization can be a game-changer for boys and young men of color. That’s especially so for young people who are disconnected from the education system and the workforce, so we will do all we can to align MBK efforts with the growing movement to reconnect opportunity youth, such as through the Opportunity Youth Network.  The Forum will continue working with the Alliance, and we’ll keep you up-to-date on future developments.  Fellow contributors to the Alliance include The White House, American Express, the Aspen Institute, Johnson & Johnson, NBA, PepsiCo, PolicyLink, the Raben Group and the departments of Education, Justice and Labor.

Publishing Date: 
May 13, 2015