National Impact Community: Sacramento, CA
My Brother’s Keeper Sacramento
In 2014, Sacramento, CA became one of the first cities to respond to the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge. In the following years, a series of convenings such as the Sacramento Local Action Summit in 2015, the MBK workforce convening, and the annual BMOC Conference in 2016 created the alignment to formally establish the MBK coordinating committee. In 2018, with fifty organizations, philanthropy, educational, and municipal leaders at the table, The Center at Sierra Health Foundation (The Center) published the MBK Sacramento guide to action Opens in a new tab that outlined policies and procedures to change or strengthen in four impact areas that would serve as the blueprint for the historic systems change to date.
Sacramento went from being the expulsion capitol of California to…Creating a Division of Youth and a ‘Children’s Cabinet’ that oversees a youth framework in every aspect of city policy.
Starting with County-wide data collection to identify disparities and hosting summits and convenings to build political will, the collective impact framework seeded a community-wide multi-sector plan for systems change.
To maximize participation and focus on the unique impact potential of each participant, the initiative developed six levels of engagement:
MBK Sacramento Education Strategy team lead agency, Improve Your Tomorrow, expanded the mentorship program that helped more than 2,000 young men of color better navigate educational pathways in San Joaquin and Fresno County. To achieve its campaign goal of sending 1,300 additional young men of color to University of California, Davis or Sacramento State by 2025, the organization convened superintendents, business, and elected officials to create a nine point plan that would revamp the suspension rate, partner with juvenile hall, and see to replacing university rejection letters with a $3,000 annual stipend and a benchmark plan for admittance.
Under the MBK framework, local stakeholders were able to:
Municipal leaders created the Division of Youth to have city employees “waking up every day asking how do I make life better for young people,” as Sacramento City Councilmember Jay Schenirer describes it. But the youth focus is not sequestered to one separate department. By creating a youth commission, they are adding a youth-focus to nearly every city commission including arts, parks, and police. The “Children’s Cabinet” convenes department heads to gather to specifically address what their section of government is doing for young people.
Hewitt will tell you, “Our shared work is not perfect, not complete, but now we’re collectively owning the results that come from our efforts and the responsibility to do better,” and there are already results coming to bear. Before COVID-19, the city went 28 months without a youth homicide. Passing free public transportation for youth saw a 160 percent increase in student ridership. There’s been a two-million dollar reinvestment from the Board of State and Community Corrections for alternatives to the juvenile justice system for about 240 youth ages 10-17. And, of course, during the COVID-19 pandemic , the MBK Sacramento mission expanded to initiatives like the Sacramento COVID Collaborative that provided $20,000 in supplies such as PPE, essential resources, and masks to over one hundred households.
The cross-sector work in Sacramento allows for participants to engage and question what has been accepted as common sense. The Public Health Advocates convenes a weekly Healthy Development Team, one pillar of the program, and has hosted a series on healing-centered engagement to learn from regional and national efforts and how they’re approaching historical challenges in the field. The Public Safety Initiative is seeking to transform the very definition of safety in the system. Previously safety was strictly measured by the number of police officers per thousand residents and response time for fire and EMT, but now young people and preventative activities are a working benchmark to be evaluated.
Chief Probation Officer Marlon Yarber reflects on The Center’s Black Child Legacy Campaign and other work with MBK Sacramento, “What is most important as a system partner is looking as far upstream as we can get…With a data analysis, one can see the same neighborhoods are the same heat maps for returning citizens, for child abuse, for homelessness.”
Heartened by what’s become possible, Sacramento Councilmember Rick Jenkins adds, “Boys and men of color cannot prosper based on what’s happened in the past. We have to create a new tomorrow… One day, we’re hopeful our kids will know their history but they will never have to experience the history we’ve faced.”