White House expands My Brother’s Keeper initiative with $100 million in private sector commitments

BY Kyla Calvert  July 21, 2014 at 1:36 PM EST

The White House announced new partnerships Monday with school districts, businesses, nonprofits and others to improve services from preschool access to career readiness training for boys and young men of color.

The announcement detailed a roughly $100 million expansion of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which President Barack Obama launched in February.

Sixty of the country’s largest school districts are partnering in the expansion by committing to an eleven-point plan to increase preschool attendance, improve reading proficiency, reduce suspensions and expulsions, increase AP course enrollment and raise graduation rates for boys of color.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy told the New York Times he sees joining in the effort to improve life outcomes for boys of color as “a deep moral commitment issue.”

Mentoring and job training initiatives make up much of the expansion with commitments from the NBA, AT&T and Chicago’s Becoming A Man mentoring program.

In conjunction with expanding the White House’s initiative, a group called the Boys and Men of Color Private Sector Initiative announced an effort to focus private and public sector resources on the same problems My Brother’s Keeper is trying to tackle.

“Many young men of color will be tomorrow’s leaders in our businesses, our communities and our country,” said Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte LLP and co-chair of the new initiative, in a written statement. “There is a critical need in our nation to support these young men throughout the many stages of their lives.”

High school graduation rates for black, Latino and American Indian boys are 13 to 21 percentage points lower than those for their white and Asian peers, according to federal data. African-American youth are five times more likely than whites to wind up in juvenile detention facilities, while the chances of a Latino or American Indian kid being incarcerated is two to three times as high as those for a white child.

When My Brother’s Keeper launched in February, Eddie Glaude, a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University, told PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill he is skeptical that private-public partnerships are a strong enough tool to tackle problems as severe as these.

“This crisis that has everything to do with unemployment, that has everything to do with the failure of the education system, that has everything to do with structural, systemic racism in terms of the criminal justice system requires a robust response from the government.”

PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.