MBK Alliance, an initiative of the Obama Foundation, is a national call to action to build safe and supportive communities where young people feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunity. We aim to unleash the power of communities working together to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color (BYMOC).
Background on My Brother’s Keeper
Four years ago, President Obama spoke to the nation in response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. He spoke about the angst and anger that parents and families were feeling, and about the challenges facing too many young people, boys and young men of color in particular. In his remarks, President Obama said Trayvon Martin, “could have been my son . . . Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” President Obama went on to say, “There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement,” and asked whether there was “more we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them, and is willing to invest in them.”
Just six months after that speech, on February 27, 2014, President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative, a federal effort “to address persistent opportunity gaps and to tear down barriers that too often prevent boys and young men of color and other young people from realizing their potential.”
To achieve that goal, the MBK Task Force, also established in 2014, first sought to clearly define the challenges facing BYMOC for the country, and to identify solutions to those challenges. Ninety days following its launch, the Task Force issued a progress report Opens in a new tab presenting its findings about “the context, opportunities and challenges in the lives of boys and young men of color.” This report, was developed through extensive research as well as direct engagement with communities across the country, and provided the direction for the MBK Initiative’s place-based and federal policy efforts.
Particularly powerful was the launch of the MBK Community Challenge, which asked communities across the country to commit to “review local public policy, host action summits, and implement locally tailored action plans to address opportunity gaps” for BYMOC. Nearly 250 communities, known as MBK Communities, accepted the Challenge in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and 19 Tribal Nations.
To scale and sustain this mission, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) was launched as a private sector entity in 2015. MBK Alliance ceased to exist as an independent non-profit organization in late 2017, and is now an initiative of the Obama Foundation. One of the primary goals of MBK Alliance was to ensure this network of MBK Communities continues to thrive, while producing tangible, measurable results that can guide and inform the field. The vision for MBK Alliance was to serve as a catalyst and linchpin for the national network of BYMOC champions, and serve as a platform to advance evidence-based policies and practices, grounded in data, across the MBK network.
Since its launch, MBK Alliance has dedicated significant resources to investigating the progress MBK Communities were making and the support they needed to sustain progress. Though many MBK Communities have demonstrated deep commitment to developing local strategies and action plans to address opportunity gaps for BYMOC, many have expressed a variety of challenges that prevent them from advancing their Local Action Plans. MBK Alliance conducted a series of interviews and surveys across the MBK Communities to better understand their needs, which yielded the following key findings:
We believe communities are the unit of change to realize improved life outcomes for boys and young men of color. Research shows that collective work of community leaders, members, youth, and public and private agencies pursuing the same goals for boys and young men of color can lead to sustainable, place-based change.
Upon the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, President Obama said that “My Brother’s Keeper is not some big, new government program.” According to the MBK Task Force, “The most meaningful interactions — the most powerful means of change — are through the relationships with parents, teachers, faith leaders, coaches and mentors that together shape our children and allow them to thrive. The biggest areas for opportunity will come from within individual communities.”
It is within this context that MBK Alliance will leverage its support for communities in their efforts to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color via three strategic approaches:
Accelerate Impact In Targeted Communities
MBK Alliance will act as a solutions partner in select communities, helping organize stakeholders and community assets around a specific mentoring and/or youth violence prevention goal for BYMOC. MBK Alliance, and its partners, will also support strengthening the overall network of MBK.
Mobilize Citizens & Resources
MBK Alliance will act as a galvanizer, mobilizing resources and activating citizens to support impact in select communities and national mentoring campaigns.
Promote What Works and Strengthen the MBK Network
MBK Alliance will act as a standard-setter, offering tools, resources, and convening opportunities designed to promote action, strengthen interventions, spotlight, and spread practices and policies that work.
This Request for Proposals (RFP) contains confidential and proprietary information. Respondents shall not reproduce or distribute this information to third parties, without prior written authorization. Questions regarding this RFP or aspects of the selection process should be directed to the Obama Foundation. Respondents acknowledge that the Foundation shall have no obligation to treat any information submitted in or in connection with the RFP response as proprietary or confidential. By the submission of an RFP response, respondent thereby grants to the Foundation an unrestricted right to use all or portions of the RFP response, including all materials and/or accompanying information submitted therewith, as it considers necessary or desirable in connection with the Competition.
Background on the Competition & Request for Proposals
The purpose of this RFP is to identify, and invest in, up to 12 communities that accepted the MBK Community Challenge, are making steady progress, and have the potential to be proof points for what it takes to substantially improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color, especially as it relates to reducing youth violence and growing the pipeline of mentors having a measurable impact on BYMOC. We are seeking to work in partnership with communities that can identify and implement evidence-based programs and a specific goal over two years to reduce youth violence or leverage mentors to address milestone-specific challenges.
While working to replicate or scale such an intervention, we will help those communities share results and build capacity to ensure the long-term success of this specific work and the broader local MBK effort. The financial and in-kind support provided is not designed to supplant government or local philanthropy. Rather, we intend that the monetary portion of the grant awards combined with tailored technical assistance and outreach support will catalyze and accelerate the pace of impact and inspire others to get involved — from everyday citizens to public and private sector leaders.
B. Award Amounts and Related Resources
Eligible high-performing nonprofit organizations, affiliated with an MBK Community, with demonstrated experience serving as a “backbone” organization in a “Collective Impact” model can apply for the following awards:
Up to five awards will be made in this category.
AWARD / FUNDING
Between $100,000 to $500,000 over two years to replicate or scale interventions in mentoring or youth violence prevention.
$50,000-$75,000 per year, for two years, in matching funds to backbone organizations for the purpose of hiring MBK Community Coordinators.
Applicants will determine the amount of money for which they will apply based on local needs, size of the project and the ability to raise the required match.
ENGAGEMENT OF SUPPORT
Two year engagement led by the MBK Alliance Communities Team and implementation partners. High-touch support from MBK Alliance and the Community Coordinator who will work with the backbone organization and local cross-sector task force to identify gaps and assets, develop recommendations, and support implementation plan.
Access to implementation and content partners to advise on overarching Local Action Plan development and long-term infrastructure to sustain the work.
Please note: All applications will be evaluated as potential Impact Communities (described above). In addition to the selected Impact Communities, MBK Alliance will award up to five more jurisdictions with Seed Grants, allowing them to pilot evidence-based practices on a smaller, more targeted scale.
Up to five awards will be made in this category to high scoring applications that we are unable to fund in the top category and/or present innovative solutions that merit testing but are not quite ready for substantial investment.
AWARD / FUNDING
$25,000 to 50,000 to pilot interventions in violence prevention and/or mentoring for a sub-population of BYMOC in the community.
Access to MBK Alliance’s implementation and content partners to advise on overarching plan development and long-term infrastructure to sustain the work.
MBK Alliance is grateful to the Ford Foundation for its generous support and early investments to help make this competition available to all MBK Challenge Communities.
As the hometown of the Obama Foundation, advancing the mission of My Brother’s Keeper in Chicago will be a permanent priority well beyond this Competition. Accordingly, a Chicago nonprofit will be selected to be part of the inaugural MBK Community Challenge Competition cohort, while other Chicago nonprofits will have the chance to compete for Seed Grants. Also, thanks to the generosity of the California Endowment, at least two “Impact Communities” will be selected competitively from the State of California.
Public Announcement of the Competition/RFP: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
RFP Release: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Pre-Submission Technical Assistance Begins: Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Deadline for Submission of Proposals: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Competition Winners Announced: Late Summer 2018
Funds Disbursed Fall 2018
D. Grant Period
The duration of the grant period is two years, and the grant funds will be divided into two equal payments over the two year period. The second grant installment is not guaranteed and will be determined based on the satisfactory fulfillment of grant requirements during the first year. We expect grant projects to begin in Q3 2018.
E. Questions regarding the RFP
MBK Alliance expects to fund applicants that successfully meet the requirements and respond to the Selection Criteria described in this RFP. Within that context, MBK Alliance will target its 2018 funding awards toward “backbone organizations” (defined below) that play a major role in driving program development expansion and the refinement of policy and practices that improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color — both related to the overarching local MBK effort as well as the program described in the grant application. We expect these organizations to work in close collaboration with and/or share backbone responsibilities with local government.
While MBK Alliance will continue to advance the importance of the interdependence of all six cradle-to-career milestones and building collective impact infrastructure that leads to lasting results, this Competition will only support applications targeting interventions on the following two areas: youth violence prevention, and growing the mentor pipeline for evidence-based mentorship programs with evidence in improving life outcomes for boys and young men of color across the milestones. Both focus areas are interdependent across the milestones, and represent some of the most pressing challenges communities are facing.
Through this RFP, MBK Alliance will work with backbone organizations to identify community needs around youth violence reduction and mentoring, set collective goals in the community, match/fund interventions for implementation in communities, and track outcomes and drive data analysis.
Youth Violence Prevention
The MBK Task Force’s Sixth Milestone was “Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance,” focusing on the belief that all children should be safe from violent crime; and 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 (BYMOC). We seek to work with communities that will identify and expand effective interventions proven to reduce youth violence. Equity will be a core pillar in how we think about effective interventions (e.g. exploring the impacts of trauma and access to health services as key drivers of violence prevention). Understanding the social determinants of health will also inform our strategies, as we advocate for a systems-level framework to build safe and healthy communities.
MBK Alliance believes that cycles of violence can be disrupted by using strategies that target interventions where they will be most effective. And, in recent years we have seen a diverse array of effective interventions flourish, using multiple entry points to address youth violence prevention ranging from workforce strategies to school discipline policy reform. Winning applicants will focus on:
Background from MBK Task Force Report
“On the path to adulthood, youth may fall victim to violence or experience an interaction with the criminal justice system that permanently alters their trajectory for the worse. While crime has generally decreased across the United States in recent years, violence continues to plague many communities, and disproportionately affects communities of color. Among Black males ages 15 to 24, homicide is the leading cause of death; it is among the leading causes of death for Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native males in that age range. Persons of color disproportionately have contact with law enforcement or are victims of violent crime. One half of all Black males have at least one arrest by age 23, compared to about 38 percent of White males in the same age range. Another study reported that, in 2012, Black males were six times, and Hispanic males two and a half times, more likely to be imprisoned than White males. It has been shown that Black youth face disparate treatment, i.e., harsher punishment, in the juvenile justice system.”
The Report of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence (2012), highlights the devastating impact of violence and trauma on our youth — from reduced cognitive functioning, to decreased abilities to connect with others, to reckless behavior. In particular, the report highlights the need for support services for such children, to provide them with the opportunity to recover and reconnect with their communities. Social, emotional, behavioral and mental health supports for victims of violence and trauma is critical to their recovery. Research shows that Black youth are substantially more likely to be victims of violent crime than other racial groups. Violent gangs are a burden on law enforcement and public health systems in our country. In 2012, approximately, 95 percent of gang-related homicides in this country took place in Metropolitan areas. Intervention and suppression efforts alone are not enough to solve the youth gang problem in our communities. Discouraging young people from joining gangs in the first place is crucial to preventing violence and victimization. Effective youth violence prevention strategies can reduce violence and injuries as well as costs in the healthcare and justice systems. Communities can implement tools to identify, screen and assess exposure to violence and trauma, and in doing so, intervene earlier to mitigate the harmful effects of violence and trauma on the development of children and youth. These efforts enhance relationships within families, improve violence prevention activities within schools, and make the physical and social environment within communities safer and more conducive to positive interactions.
Numerous studies have shown that the impact of an effective mentor on the life trajectory of boys and young men of color is profound. Studies have found that 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 currently, far too many young people who want a mentor will not have one before they reach adulthood. MBK Alliance seeks to work with partners to help mobilize citizens across the United States and connect them to evidence-based mentor organizations that will train the mentors and match them with mentees. We have seen effective mentorship programs have a specific impact on all six milestones, ranging from reading interventions in the third grade to mentoring of incarcerated individuals planning to return home. For this grant proposal we are not interested in generic campaigns to grow the number of citizens who want to serve as mentors. Rather, we are looking for explicit efforts to identify mentoring programs with measurable, tangible impact on key challenges facing boys and young men of color and then connect them with quality, trained mentors that will have a long-term sustained engagement with BYMOC.
For the purposes of this RFP, mentoring is defined as having the following components or activities:
Background on Caring Adults and Mentors from the MBK Task Force Report
“Parents, guardians and other caring adults play the most important roles in determining young people’s life trajectories from cradle-to-college-and-career. In fact, a child’s greatest advantage is the love and support of a strong and stable family. The research clearly indicates the benefits to children who have two actively engaged parents. Family structures and economic stability are large drivers of parents’ ability to provide necessary supports and guidance to their children. Work schedules, custody arrangements and other factors exacerbated by low income make it difficult for many parents to have time for quality engagement with their children. If parents and families are themselves struggling financially or lack education, their children are much less likely to achieve good educational, economic, and social outcomes. Research shows that increasing family income and access to full-time employment can improve child outcomes.
The importance of economic stability extends beyond parents who are living with their children. Beyond child support obligations, the employment status and financial and nonfinancial resources of a child’s non-resident parent or a second adult can have an important effect on his or her wellbeing. Increasing employment and earnings opportunities for parents therefore can help two generations.
In addition to parents, other caring adults have a pronounced impact on young people’s lives. Many successful adults credit a teacher, coach, faith leader or some other mentor with helping them raise their aspirations or navigate difficult times. Specifically, youth with high-quality, sustained mentors are more likely to engage in positive behavior and less likely to engage in negative behavior. Through direct and sustained high-quality mentoring, young people can personally and directly observe how an individual maneuvers through failures, pitfalls and other challenges before achieving a goal. Despite the demonstrated importance of high-quality, sustained mentoring, a recent survey of young people ages 18-21 found that one in three young people will reach age 19 without the benefit of a mentor.”
To learn more about recommended practices and approaches to mentoring boys and young men of color, please review our “Guide to Mentoring Boys and Young Men of Color,” co-sponsored by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, available here: http://www.mentoring.org/new-site/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Guide-to-Mentoring-BYMOC.pdf Opens in a new tab
Applications that do not specifically identify one or both of these focus areas will not be considered for funding.
MBK Alliance is interested in proposals focused on meeting the needs of boys and young men of color, ages 30 and under, in traditionally underserved populations, including African American, Hispanic American, Native American and some Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
While MBK Alliance’s mission is centrally focused on the challenges faced by boys and young men of color, we recognize you cannot solve the challenges facing boys and young men of color without addressing the interconnected issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration and socioeconomic status. We also know that issues faced by young men, young women and gender nonconforming youth in communities of color are often intertwined and deeply related. Through this RFP we seek partners who advance this belief and are part of the network of boys and young men of color serving organizations that work alongside or in partnership with similar programs for girls, provide education and support for parents and families, address immigrant rights, tackle homophobia, and advance solutions to gender inequities.
This competition is open to backbone organizations — those that ultimately seek to improve social outcomes by organizing cross-sector groups of partners to transform inefficient, fragmented systems. These organizations must demonstrate an ability and track record of success in guiding an initiative, in partnership with local government, via five core activities:
While government entities are not eligible to receive funding under this grant, MBK Alliance recognizes that the White House’s MBK Community Challenge launched in 2014 Opens in a new tab was a call to action to mayors, county executives and tribal leaders. Much of the work that began in communities at the outset of MBK was and is nested within government agencies, public school systems, and local elected executive offices. As a result, MBK Alliance expects backbone organizations seeking to apply for the competition to work in close coordination and collaboration with the local government infrastructure. These public-private partnerships should be explicitly highlighted within application submissions, as they are critical to ensuring a focus on systems as well as programs, leveraging diverse funding streams and increasing the likelihood for lasting success.
NOTE: All Chicago-based nonprofits must read and follow instructions in the Chicago Supplemental Application
MBK Alliance will only consider applications from backbone organizations that:
MBK Alliance will only accept proposals from organizations aligned with the local MBK Task Force (Committee, Cabinet, etc.) that leads the MBK work in jurisdictions that have formally accepted the MBK Community Challenge. Further, MBK Alliance will prioritize organizations representing communities that have met the initial MBK Community Challenge requirements, including:
Documents to be submitted with proposal:
The Obama Foundation does not participate in activities which are prohibited for public charities and does not generally engage in certain other practices, including but not limited to:
Applicants who do not meet the eligibility criteria by the application deadline will be ineligible for review and consideration in this competition. The Foundation reserves the right, in its sole discretion and without notice, to modify this RFP, including but not limited to changes to the timeline or response content; to request clarifications or additional information from any respondent after the submittal of RFP responses; or to reject any and all responses. The Foundation shall select, at its sole, absolute, and unreviewable discretion, the winning organizations.
The Foundation will not be responsible for any costs incurred by the Respondent or anyone affiliated with the Respondent in connection with this RFP.
Key Program Requirements
MBK Alliance grantees are required to match the entire amount of grant award on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The match must be in cash. In-kind matching is not allowed. At the time of application submission, MBK Alliance applicants must demonstrate the ability to meet 50 percent of their first year cash match requirement. MBK Alliance is interested in applicants that demonstrate a clear capacity to raise additional dollars and a serious commitment to own the fundraising responsibility for short-term and long-term sustainability.
B. Growing the Impact of Program Models
One of the goals of the Community Challenge Competition is to grow the impact of innovative community-based solutions that have compelling evidence of improving the lives of boys and young men of color throughout the United States. Moreover, the MBK Alliance will target investments towards high-performing organizations that have sufficient evidence of the effectiveness of their program model and the organizational capacity to deliver at least limited growth as the organization progresses.
Grantees may grow the impact of their program model in several ways, including through expansion of existing program sites or replication of the program to new sites in different communities. However, all strategies should involve expanding the selected solutions so more boys and young men of color experience substantial, measurable benefit.
All organizations who receive funding will be required to propose and implement detailed plans for growing their reach during the period of their grant and ensuring fidelity to the program model. These plans will include, at a minimum, the following information:
C. Complementary Best Practice Review and Reform
MBK Alliance was created to combat the structural racism that keeps boys and young men of color from reaching their full potential. Decades of research and data clearly demonstrate that the challenges BYMOC face are affected by complementary practices that disproportionately affect underserved communities that may ultimately result in outcomes such as higher rates of poverty, joblessness, school suspension and incarceration.
As a result, we’re seeking to support projects that will work within a systems change framework, not only providing direct service to BYMOC but are also advancing, and advocating for, systemic and institutional reforms in complementary best practices in the public and private sectors that will lead to lasting change for the youth served by the project and beyond. For example, many communities have launched school-district-wide discipline reform campaigns that start with broadcasting disparities in outcomes for boys and young men of color, then promoting best practices that seek to eliminate such disparities. These practices include: eliminating external suspension, providing direct service programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy, increasing support for restorative justice, diversion and other violence-prevention initiatives, increasing access to public spaces for young people, and facilitating opportunities for trained adults to mentor underserved youth.
D. Evidence and Evaluation
As President Obama said when he launched My Brother’s Keeper, the initiative is about “building on what works — when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.” This means a commitment to use data to inform and improve service delivery, and working to develop and scale interventions with evidence of success to ensure all young people can reach their full potential.
MBK Alliance will select organizations that have a track record of using evidence to identify, scale and improve interventions. MBK Alliance will seek to award funding to applicants that propose to implement program models that have demonstrated significant impact in improving life outcomes of boys and young men of color. The intervention must have undergone a thoughtful serious evaluation with at least preliminary evidence of effectiveness as described in the Appendix.
Additionally, successful applications will include clear details concerning how the backbone organization will support further evaluation throughout the program implementation and grant period. MBK Alliance reserves the right to require award recipients to adopt uniform evaluation standards and approaches and introduce third parties that may assist with this process. Winning communities will also be required to participate in a multi-city data sharing arrangement to track outcomes and compare programs.
E. Collective Impact
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. See the appendix for more information on this approach.
F. Funding Instrument
The funding mechanism for MBK Alliance is a grant agreement, which provides for substantial involvement by MBK Alliance with the funded organizations (Impact Communities) as the approved grant activities are implemented. The assigned MBK Alliance team member will confer with the grantee on a regular and frequent basis to develop and/or review service delivery and project status, including work plans, budgets, periodic reports, evaluations, etc.
Reviewers will assess each section according to the following criteria.
A. Application Information
B. Organization Information, Track Record and Ability
C. Project Information
D. Leadership and Collaboration
E. Budget and Sustainability
In addition to the application requirements and scoring rubric, to distinguish among high quality competitive proposals the Foundation will seek to ensure that its portfolio of funded proposals achieves balances of:
Communications during the RFP Period
All contact with the Foundation during the RFP period, including respondent’s questions and the Foundation’s responses, will be through the Foundation’s website. All questions regarding this RFP must be submitted on or before Monday, May 14, 2018 by 12:00pm EST. The Foundation will answer relevant questions and distribute each response to all parties associated with the RFP process by Monday, May 17, 2018.
Application Submission Deadline
The application is due no later than Thursday, May 24, 2018 by 5:00 pm EST. Applications must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered. Applications received after the deadline will be determined non-compliant and therefore not eligible for review and consideration. MBK Alliance reserves the right to extend the submission deadline and will post any extended deadline on the Obama Foundation website. MBK Alliance does not accept applications submitted via postal mail, fax or email.
Award Notification & Funding Disbursement
MBK Alliance will announce the grantee selections in late summer of 2018. MBK Alliance anticipates the awards will be issued in the fall of 2018. MBK Alliance is not obligated to make any awards as a result of this Notice.
Grantees are required to provide quarterly progress reports and bi-annual financial reports. Report templates will be provided at least 60 days before they are due. In addition, at the end of the grant period, grantees must submit final financial and progress reports that are cumulative over the entire award period. The final reports are due 90 days after the end of the agreement.
While applications will not be evaluated on these criteria, grantees will be expected to have data collection and data management policies and practices that provide reasonable assurance that they are giving the Obama Foundation high quality performance measure data. At a minimum, grantees should have policies and practices that address the following five aspects of data quality:
In addition, we expect grantees to hold any subgrantees accountable for their progress against agreed-upon indicators of success. The grantees will also be asked to report subgrantee performance information to the Obama Foundation, if applicable. As part of knowledge collection and dissemination efforts, all or a portion of reports submitted may be made available to the public.