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Community Highlights

Impact Narrative Report

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community highlights

As a result of the The MBK Community Challenge Competition, MBK Alliance selected 19 organizations across 10 states and Puerto Rico as national models to expand initiatives to reduce youth violence, grow effective mentorship programs, and measurably improve the lives of boys and young men of color. The winning communities represent every region of the country, strong public-private partnerships, and diverse cities, rural areas, Tribal Nations, and barrios of all sizes. 

During the two years of the MBKCCC, MBK Alliance, with the help of outside evaluators, tracked the progress of the 10 Impact and nine Seed communities. While the MBKCCC primarily focused on initiatives to reduce youth violence and grow effective mentorship programs, MBK Alliance was able to track impact in five key areas. Click to jump to each area or just continue scrolling.

Violence Prevention

MBKCCC sites expanded and enhanced programming for youth violence prevention and to provide new pathways for boys and young men of color that come in contact with the criminal justice system.

Mentorship

MBKCCC sites accelerated their mentorship and youth development programs, which resulted in higher high school completion rates, increased enrollment in college, and better job obtainment among the boys and young men of color.

Six Cradle-to-Career Milestones

MBKCCC sites made steady progress across six cradle-to-career milestones on the path to adulthood that are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact.

Collective Action

MBKCCC site leveraged new resources and cultivated relationships to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color by bringing new partners to the table, deepening collaborative relationships, and gaining additional investment from new funders.

Policy Change

MBKCCC sites gained notable traction in shifting policies and systems to better support boys and young men of color by collaborating with key systems leaders to positively improve community conditions.

Violence Prevention

MBK Alliance’s 6th Cradle-to-Career Milestone, “Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance,” focuses on the belief that all children should be safe from violent crime, and that individuals who are confined should receive the education, training, and treatment needed to have a real opportunity at a second chance.

Violent crime and incarceration in the United States disproportionately affects boys and young men of color, which is why we actively sought to work with communities that were identifying and expanding effective interventions proven to reduce youth violence. Impact and Seed MBKCCC sites in California, Puerto Rico, Chicago, Detroit, Omaha, and beyond made significant progress implementing effective interventions using multiple entry points to address youth violence prevention.

“Our legal services effectively make sure that a minor or emerging adult does not suffer the oppression and harm of a permanent felony record for the rest of their life for something they may or may not have done at 17. It’s critical that we are successful in getting them through the criminal justice system without those permanent ramifications.”

—Cliff Nellis, Lawndale, Executive Director, Lawndale Christian Legal Center

  • New Life Centers of Chicagoland (New Life Centers) utilized canvassing, weekly programming, mentoring, in-school groups, community partnerships, and community engagement to successfully engage disconnected young people at highest risk of violence.

  • With the help of the MBKCCC supports, BUILD Chicago reported that 86% of youth participants abstained from gang involvement; of the 14% who are or were previously involved in a gang, 75% of youth have detached from gang involvement, and the remaining 25% are actively detaching.

  • Black Family Development was able to convene a stakeholder roundtable that included elected officials in Detroit, which resulted in a shift in public school policy: Behavioral interventions must be offered before youth are expelled from school, breaking a link in the school-to-prison pipeline.

  • Two impact sites, Black Family Development (Detroit, MI) and Sierra Health Foundation (Sacramento, CA), focused their workforce development efforts on providing former gang members and those who are criminal justice-impacted with workforce training and job placements for positions that have low barriers to entry.

  • Lawndale Christian Legal Center (Chicago, IL) was able to leverage their MBKCCC supports to reduce youth involvement with the criminal justice system. During the two-year period, they were able to provide 100% of the youth in their program with a rigorous legal defense and prevent 89% of the youth in their program from being re-arrested for a technical issue or new offense. (National averages - 75% of people return to the criminal justice system within three years.)

Mentorship

Numerous studies document the profound impact an effective mentor can have on the life trajectory of boys and young men of color. A mentor can have a tremendous impact on absenteeism, social-emotional growth, school performance, career ambitions — all outcomes that align to the six MBK milestones. But far too many young people who want a mentor will not have one before they reach adulthood. MBK Alliance works with partners to help mobilize citizens across the United States and connect them to mentor organizations that will train the mentors and match them with mentees. We have documented the direct link between effective mentorship programs and the specific, positive impact across all six milestones, ranging from reading interventions in the third grade to mentoring of incarcerated individuals planning to return home.

Many of the MBKCCC sites have been able to accelerate mentoring programs that have measurable, tangible impact on key challenges facing boys and young men of color and have connected them with quality, trained mentors that will have a long-term, sustained engagement with BYMOC.

“The Mentoring Center curriculum is designed for character development, cognitive restructuring, spiritual development, life-skills training, anger management, and employability skills. Most importantly the TMC approach is centered in love and healing and supports the emotional, mental and social health and wellbeing of our youth and young adults.”

— Achebe Hoskins, Director of Programs, The Mentoring Center

  • With the help of MBKCCC supports, Orlando Community and Youth Trust (Orlando, FL) was able to secure $1 million in city funds specifically to support MBK programming dedicated to mentorship efforts. This MBKCCC site expanded mentorship opportunities: to Orlando’s three new place-based Kid Zones models; from four to now five middle schools; and from five to a total of seven recreation centers. Curriculum with monitoring for quality assurance was implemented at each location.

  • With the support of their MBKCCC grant, The Mentoring Center (Oakland, CA) was able to provide their Transformative Mentoring, an approach focused on transforming the mental framework of a disrupted human development cycle, to more Black boys under the age of 18. In addition, they were able to develop or strengthen partnerships with other organizations doing phenomenal work for our boys and young men, across the county, including MBK Oakland, The City of Oakland, The Oakland/­Alameda County Alliance for Boys and Men Of Color to create and implements new events, programming and partnerships that have elevated the voices of boys and young men in their community.

  • Mass Mentoring (Boston, MA) has provided training to 341 adults who serve in over 20 local youth serving agencies and school districts to connect with young people and offer mentoring support focused on developing quality long term relationships. In addition, Mass Mentoring Partnership continued their work to achieve the long-term outcome of ensuring that every young person in Massachusetts has access to quality mentoring relationships.

  • Sierra Health Foundation (Sacramento, CA), an MBKCCC site that provides quality mentorship opportunities to youth who have been pushed out of school and are juvenile justice-involved, expanded their number of mentees by 50%.

Six Milestones

Six Cradle-to-Career Milestones

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. 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.

These six key milestones are:

Getting a Healthy Start and Entering School Ready to Learn

Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade

Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career

Completing Postsecondary Education or Training

Successfully Entering the Workforce

Keeping Kids on Track and Giving Them Second Chances

Although the MBKCCC sites were focused on accelerating their work in violence prevention and mentorship, all of the sites were able to conduct work across the six milestones.

“What makes us different is not just attracting the kids but keeping them engaged. The longer they stay with the team the better performers they are and better the chance they graduate high school and go into college. That’s what we mean by working with them through their critical teenage years.”

— Steven Washington, Community Outreach Director, South Shore Drill Team

"So many things play a role in a young person’s life and our role is to be an agent in the theory of change. We approach partnership and collabs humbly, we are here for youth first. Also no work is small to come in the way of Juma achieving the goals, We are willing to play any role necessary for young black men and young men of color”

— Robert Lewis Jr., Atlanta’s Site Director, Juma Ventures

  • With the support of MBK Alliance, NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) (Albuquerque, NM) expanded their Social and Emotional Learning Framework (SEL), an integral part of education and human development which advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships. NISN was able to inform the Statewide SEL framework by solidifying goals specific to the community needs and individualized SEL to best serve the youth in their indigenous community and people of color. In addition, NISN created an advisory board to help inform the framework. NACA was among ten Schools highlighted by Chan Zuckerberg Foundation - “How Schools are Expanding the Definition of Student Success”.

  • Change Happens (Houston, TX) used their MBKCCC supports to create mentoring relationships between caring adults and boys and young men of color to improve academic achievement, self-esteem, social competence, and avoidance of high-risk behaviors.

  • The South Shore Drill Team and Performing Arts Ensemble (Chicago, IL) helped youth members that participate with the Drill Team reach a 100% high school graduation rate. In addition, 99% of their youth participants go on to college. They were also successful in engaging parents to serve as mentors for both the youth and develop their own informal mentorship relationships and provide support for the team.

  • The Lawndale Christian Legal Center (Chicago, IL) used its grant to fill a previously unmet need: Begin offering outreach services to acutely high-risk youth in need of outreach services. In addition, the organization was able to ensure that 90% of their school-aged clients enrolled in school.

  • Youth Guidance (BAM) and Thrive Chicago (Chicago, IL) were able to scale up the Becoming a Man program (BAM) to serve four additional schools, bringing BAM into a total of more than 70 Chicago public schools. These four additional schools have each been provided a full-time Becoming a Man Counselor who is delivering the program’s empirically proven curriculum to young men between 7th and 12th grades.

  • Juma Ventures (Atlanta, GA) was able to redesign their YouthConnect Program to be responsive to diverse needs and address four categories of learning: Professional Development, Goal Setting, Education Planning Workshops, and Financial Capability.

  • Through the MBKCCC and matching grants, yli was able to expand its partnership with Fresno Unified School District. Through this partnership, yli works with youth leaders to provide job skills development, adult-youth mentoring relationships, and youth-led advocacy campaigns. The Edison High School, Cambridge High School, and Del Mar Elementary School chapters met every week to intentionally focus on socio-emotional and personal development. Youth participants wanted to focus on mental health and wellness and yli was able to connect them with mental health practitioners across Central Valley and the Bay Area to learn about non-clinical approaches, including healing circles and storytelling.

Collective Action to Leverage Resources and Cultivate Relationships

MBK Alliance believes that it is imperative that MBK Communities intentionally include diverse voices with various levels of influence to build community ownership around conditions for boys and young men of color. To create long-term systems change, a diverse group of community leaders (corporations, small businesses, non-profits, community leaders, government agencies, elected officials, and school districts) must share decision-making with boys and young men of color. When these groups commit to share resources and influence to improve the lives of boys and young men of color, MBK Communities are able to develop rich ecosystems of change.

With the support of their grants and beyond-the-check supports from MBK Alliance, MBKCCC sites leveraged resources and cultivated relationships. Many of the sites grew their networks by gaining the attention of and investment from new partners/funders. Others were able to use their MBKCCC resources to build relationships with new partners, establish a presence at new sites, and jointly build trust with potential participants, to lay a strong foundation for programmatic success.

"NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) worked with partners to scale the NISN model and encourage safe, equitable, and culturally-relevant learning environments, especially focused on engaging boys and young men of color specific to attendance, persistence, and graduation goals."

— Maȟpíya Black Elk, Community Impact Leader, My Brothers Keeper Albuquerque, NACA Inspired Schools Network

  • The African-American Empowerment Network (Omaha, NE) leveraged their original $50,000 Seed grant to secure an additional $2.3 million dollars in funds to support their efforts locally.

  • NACA Inspired Schools Network (Albuquerque, NM) convened youth to conduct focus groups with their peers to determine what successful SEL looks like and how it should be evaluated within their program. They also launched a Community Advisory Council which includes four areas of expertise for planning purposes: Wellness Philosophy, Governance Council, Family Outreach, andCommunity Partnerships. 

  • Juma Ventures (Atlanta, GA) was able to deepen their relationship with their county and community through partnerships with Fulton County Government, City of Atlanta, Atlanta Technical College, and Foreman College (HBCU). In addition, with introductions made by MBK Rising, Juma Ventures secured a corporate partnership with FedEx Freight to support Juma’s YouthConnect Program, offering priority interviews and hiring opportunities to the youth that successfully completed the program.

  • Liberty Hill Foundation (Los Angeles, CA) leveraged their MBKCCC support and their action plan to build new relationships and partnerships with government agencies, as well as new funders and donors. They have received over $10 million in direct funding for their work since joining the MBKCCC cohort, and they have also received interest from funders, donors, and relationships with all 11 professional sports teams in the Los Angeles area. Government partnerships now account for more than 35% of their budget.

  • RYSE (Richmond, CA) reported that their affiliation with MBK Alliance through MBKCCC contributed to them being able to expediently raise $2 million in two months for their capital campaign. In addition, RYSE has led widespread efforts to listen to and lift up community input in order to shape recommendations for the City’s task force, conducting listening sessions with residents across Contra Costa County.

Policy Change

Part of the MBK Communities’ mission is to transform historic and policy systems that perpetuate racial bias and practices. That means not only advocating for change and reform and providing direct services to boys and young men of color, but disrupting historic systems and policies detrimental to these groups in order to produce lasting generational change.

Although many sites indicated that policy and systems change work was more difficult, MBKCCC sites nonetheless are initiating policy and systems change efforts -- and ensuring that the voices of boys and young men of color are shaping that work. In addition, sites are fostering participant voices as a significant aspect of their longer-term policy and systems change work.

"If we are to be my brothers’ keeper, that means all of the kin and the ecosystem… It should not be that you’re successful when you make it out the hood. It should be you’re successful when you affirm, invest, heal, and transform the hood."

— Sam Vaughn, Office of Neighborhood Safety, RYSE

  • Sierra Health Foundation (Sacramento, CA) was able to join other MBK Sacramento partners, such as Sacramento ACT and organizers across the state, to push California legislators to pass SB 823, finally addressing a decades-old advocacy priority to close the youth prison system.

  • Liberty Hill Foundation (Los Angeles, CA) was able to engage in policy work through local organizers and in coordination with Los Angeles County to divert investment away from juvenile justice systems and toward youth development and prevention. Thus far, their multi-year, cross-agency, county-wide, and community organizing efforts have led to $110 million diverted from punishment to youth development and to the closing of juvenile detention facilities.

  • RYSE (Richmond, CA), continues to engage in statewide efforts and collaboration with California Funders for Boys and Men of Color to leverage state tax appropriations to build RYSE Commons, their expanded campus that will support permanence, power-building, and power-shifting for RYSE, and for partner organizations providing critical social service and youth development programming for youth of color and their families in Contra Costa County.

  • Black Family Development (Detroit, MI) was able to convene a stakeholder roundtable that included elected officials in Detroit, resulting in an important shift in public school policy: Students, before being expelled, must first be offered behavioral interventions, breaking a link in the school-to-prison pipeline.

  • New Life Centers of Chicagoland (Chicago, IL) worked to close down St. Charles and Warrenville juvenile justice centers, and continues to work to create alternatives to youth detention; addressed disproportionate minority contact; decreased criminalization of students’ in schools; and increased the use of restorative justice practices.