1. The Six Milestones

To ensure that all young Americans have the opportunities they need to reach their full potential, MBK Alliance is grounded in the idea that we must adopt approaches that empower all of our children with the tools to succeed as they move through key life stages. Research and experience have identified key milestones on the path to adulthood that are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact. At each of these markers, we see some children start to fall behind. Although the factors that influence success at each stage are complex and interdependent, by focusing on these milestones, doing what works and removing or avoiding roadblocks that hinder progress, we can provide young people the opportunity and the tools to get ahead.

  1. Getting a Healthy Start and Entering School Ready to Learn
    All children should have a healthy start and enter school ready – cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally.
  2. Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade
    All children should be reading at grade level by age 8 – the age at which reading to learn becomes essential.
  3. Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career
    All youth should receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.
  4. Completing Postsecondary Education or Training
    Every American should have the option to attend postsecondary education and receive the education and training needed for the quality jobs of today and tomorrow.
  5. Successfully Entering the Workforce
    Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.
  6. Keeping Kids on Track and Giving Them Second Chances
    All youth and young adults should be safe from violent crime; and individuals who are confined should receive the education, training, and treatment they need for a second chance.

President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force also identified the following cross-cutting strategies that also remain core principles to our work:

  • Enabling comprehensive, cradle-to-college-and-career community solutions;
  • Learning from and doing what works;
  • Making data about critical life indicators more transparent; and
  • Empowering parents and engaging other caring adults.

2. Collective Impact Approaches

MBK Alliance is interested in funding applications that utilize a Collective Impact Approach. Collective Impact is a model in which cross-sector coalitions form to identify a common set of challenges and evidence-informed and evidence-based solutions, and then work together to implement the solution.

Collective Impact efforts should include the following characteristics:

  • Common Agenda: All participants have a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.
  • Decision Making, Data, and Shared Measurement: Agreement from all participants to  implement solutions that are at least evidence-informed. Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants to ensure that efforts remain aligned and that participants hold each other accountable.
  • Mutually Reinforcing Activities: Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
  • Continuous Communication: Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and appreciate common motivation.
  • Investment and Sustainability: There is broad ownership from all participants in building infrastructure and resources to sustain the work and continuously improve outcomes.
  • Backbone Organization: Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate entity with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and to coordinate participating organizations and agencies. Successful applicants will have demonstrated experience leveraging the Collective Impact approach with existing “backbone” entities.
  • Evaluation and Accountability: Collective impact approaches must include a strategy for rigorous evaluation, including a strategy for isolating causal effects of the approach.

3. Evidence-Based Mentoring Programs

Overall Guidance & Best Practices
Resource Source/Published By Link
Guide to Mentoring Boys and Young Men of Color MENTOR
MBK Alliance
What Works in Mentoring?
(For Specific Populations)
National Mentoring Resource Center

Program Examples


iMentor builds mentoring relationships that empower first-generation students from low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions.
Program Link:

Reading Partners

Reading Partners mobilizes communities to provide students with the proven, individualized reading support they need to read at grade level by fourth grade.
Program Link:


Arches was launched in 2012. The program was developed by the New York City Department of Probation in response to the Young Men’s initiative (YMI) which was established by Mayor Bloomberg. Arches is a curriculum-based group mentoring intervention delivered by credible messenger mentors that helps probation clients transform the attitudes and behaviors that have led to criminal activity.
Program Link:
Evaluation/Report: and

MBK Success Mentor Corps

The My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Success Mentors Initiative is the nation’s first-ever effort to reach and support our nation’s highest-risk students by scaling an evidence-based, data-driven mentor model through our schools. Over the next three to five years, the initiative aims to reduce chronic absenteeism and drive school success by connecting over 1 million chronically absent students to caring, trained adults who can serve as mentors.
Program Link:…
Evaluation/Report (NYC Success Mentor Eval):

4. Evidence-Based Youth Violence Prevention Programs

Overall Guidance & Best Practices
Resource Source/Published By Link
Four Proven Violence Reduction Strategies Cities United &
National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform
Interventions for Reducing Violence and its Consequences for Young Black Males in America Cities United

Becoming a Man

Becoming a Man (BAM) program was launched to help young men navigate difficult circumstances that threaten their future. The program currently serves more than 6,000 at 107 schools across the city of Chicago, and serves more than 160 youth at four schools in Boston.
Program Link:

Cure Violence

The Cure Violence Health Model uses epidemic control method to reduce violence. The model trains carefully selected members of the community to anticipate where violence may occur and intervene before it erupts. There is also significant focus on engaging the entire community to change behavior and norms.
Program Link:

Center for Employment Opportunity

CEO is dedicated to providing immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services to men and women with criminal convictions. CEO highly structured and tightly supervised programs help participants regain the skills and confidence needed for successful transitions to stable, productive lives.
Program Link:
Evaluation/Report: and

Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community
Program Link:

5. Levels of Evidence

The following categories, which attempt to categorize the progression of program evaluation, were taken from the My Brother’s Keeper What Works Showcase Guide of 2016. Source:…/MBK%20Program.pdf

Strong Evidence

Interventions shown in well-conducted randomized controlled trials, carried out in typical community settings, to produce sizable, sustained effects on important life outcomes, such as reading and math proficiency, high school graduation, college enrollment and persistence, employment and earnings, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, or criminal arrests. Strong evidence generally includes a requirement for replication – i.e., the demonstration of such effects in two or more trials conducted in different implementation sites, or, alternatively, in one large multi-site trial.

Promising Evidence

Interventions that have been evaluated in randomized controlled trials or rigorous quasi- experimental studies, and found to have positive effects that are sizable but not yet conclusive (e.g., due to only short-term follow-up, a single-site study design, well-matched comparison groups but not randomization, or effects that fall short of statistical significance). Promising evidence requires third-party or external and impartial evaluators.

Preliminary Evidence

The model has evidence based on reasonable hypothesis and supported by credible research findings. Examples of research that meet the standards include: 1) outcomes studies that track participants through a program and measure participants’ responses at the end of the program; and 2) third-party pre- and post-test research that that determines whether participants have improved on an intended outcome.