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MBKA: Eight Years of Impact

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February 21, 2022
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President Barack Obama meets with students prior to a My Brother's Keeper initiative town hall

A Movement Inspired By Trayvon Martin Unleashes the Power of Communities to Work Together to Solve Problems for Boys and Young Men of Color

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance began as a call to action for the nation to address the persistent opportunity gaps boys and young men of color face and to ensure all young people can reach their full potential.

Today, the Alliance works to unleash the power of communities working together to solve problems for boys and young men of color, at a level to improve real life outcomes. We believe communities are the unit of change to realize improved life outcomes for our boys. Research shows that the collective work of community leaders, members, and public and private agencies pursuing the same goals for these young men can lead to sustainable, place-based change.

Our work is rooted in six key life milestones that research shows are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact. By focusing on these milestones, doing what works, and removing or avoiding roadblocks that hinder systems change, we are working to provide boys and young men of color the opportunity and the tools to get ahead.

We support efforts on the ground in communities, through direct funding, technical assistance and training, convenings and networking, and we’ve built a community of practice for organizations and institutions that want to see population level change for our boys and young men. We seek to change systems. We’ve made real progress and we are excited to continue the work to build safe and supportive communities.

“It has been my honor to help lead MBK from the day it was launched by President Obama 8 years ago! The work carried out in hundreds of communities across this nation continues to impact the lives of so many. Until that day when being exceptional is no longer viewed as the exception to the rule for boys and young men of color, I will continue to do my part for MBK Alliance.”
- Broderick Johnson, Executive Vice President, Public Policy & Executive Vice President, Digital Equity, Comcast; MBK Advisory Council

MBK as a Solutions Partner

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance acts as a solutions partner, working with communities to implement action plans and drive impact through key investments. Since 2019, the Alliance has invested over 6 million dollars in our grantee communities, helping these communities impact approximately 367,000 youth.

Young Men of Color

Spotlight: Liberty Hill Foundation - Los Angeles, CA

With the support of investment and technical assistance from MBK, Liberty Hill is seeing progress in its efforts to improve outcomes for boys and men of color, as well as decrease violence and youth incarceration. In partnership with the LA County’s Department of Probation, Liberty Hill leveraged $10 million in private funding and over $100 million in county funding with a goal of diverting 85% of young people away from prison and probation and toward vocation and youth development.

“My motivation for engaging in the boys and young men of color field was seeing too many young men who looked like me going to prison because they were not afforded the same opportunities to succeed, learn and thrive.”
- Julio Marcial, Senior Director, Youth Justice, Liberty Hill Foundation, MBK Los Angeles
NACA Inspired Schools Network

Spotlight: NACA Inspired Schools - Albuquerque, NM

With the support of the MBK Alliance, The NACA Inspired School Network (NISN) has expanded that community of practice to include civic-minded community organizations and to center the work around boys and young men of color. NISN’s work on social emotional learning through their community-of-practice has informed the New Mexico statewide SEL framework for the public education department and led to the expansion of SEL practices across the state. The Public Education Department’s SEL Framework is the first of its kind in the state with the goal of meeting the needs of the whole child.

“We recognize that young people are not just leaders of the future, but they can and should be leaders now. Their voices deserve to be listened to.”
- Maȟpíya Black Elk, Lakota & Xicano Mestizo Community Impact Leader, MBK Albuquerque, NACA Inspired Schools Network

Spotlight: Youth Guidance (BAM)

The Becoming A Man (BAM) program engages young men in navigating difficult circumstances by openly expressing themselves, receiving support and developing the social and emotional skills necessary to succeed. Through the MBK Impact investment, BAM expanded to serve four additional schools on Chicago’s South Side engaging more than 200 students annually. 

In two evaluations of BAM, the program cut violent-crime arrests among youth in half and boosted high school graduation rates of participants by nearly 20%. In addition, it filled and continues to fill an important need by developing essential, non academic skills in young men through mentorship, role-playing, and group exercises. 

“MBK gave me a tremendous amount of confidence when it came to dreaming bigger, especially coming from a neighborhood riddled with gun violence and not knowing that the world has so much more to offer than what I was being subjected to. And with losing my brother and friend to gun violence just a month after meeting with President Obama, it proved to us that MBK is well needed to show inner city youth that they are not bound to the limits of their communities, there are better things in the world.”
- James Adams, Former Student of Hyde Park Academy

MBK as a Standard Setter

MBK acts as a standard setter, focusing on strengthening the network of our leaders and communities and partners across the nation and promoting what works. Through technical assistance, town halls, MBK University courses, and our summits and leadership forums, the Alliance has provided over 1,000 community leaders with training and resources to strengthen their work.

Spotlight: The MBK Equity Framework - A Blueprint for Transformation, Success and Long-Term Sustainability

The MBK Leadership Forum convened MBK Communities that are making notable progress to reduce barriers and expand opportunities for our boys and young men. This virtual gathering celebrated progress, centered racial equity as a core driver to meet MBK goals, shared best practices from communities with proven success, strengthened leadership skills, and spotlighted what works.

“Since the launch of MBKA eight years ago, whether in the White House or the Obama Foundation, it has not only centered on systems and structures but also on the lived experiences of boys and young men of color. It is for that reason that relationships, social capital, and their ability to drive understanding, stability, belonging, identity, and navigation to opportunity has been central to the frameworks and action agenda of MBKA. They sought to combine expertise, elevation, community insight, and public and political will to contribute to the movement. MBKA has worked with MENTOR and the mentoring movement to advance the work nationally and in communities to balance these realities and call us toward our common humanity and unique identity, history and experience.”
- David Shapiro, CEO - Mentor
MBK Leadership Forum

Spotlight: MBK Leadership Forum

The MBK Leadership Forum convened MBK Communities that are making notable progress to reduce barriers and expand opportunities for our boys and young men. This virtual gathering celebrated progress, centered racial equity as a core driver to meet MBK goals, shared best practices from communities with proven success, strengthened leadership skills, and spotlighted what works.

“As an indigenous woman, a mother to three men, and grandmother to two boys, I am compelled to help create a more equitable world. My Brother’s Keeper Alliance has worked diligently over the past eight years to create opportunities and safer spaces for our boys and young men. I am inspired by the efforts of our MBK Communities, and recognize we still have much to do! I continue this critical work to honor those who were taken too soon, including my son Brice.”
- Angelique Albert, CEO of the American Indian Graduate Center; MBK Alliance Advisory Council Member

MBK as a Mobilizer

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance mobilizes individuals and institutions to support the efforts necessary for our young men to live safe and healthy lives. Through convenings like MBK Rising, our town hall series, partnerships with funders and corporations, and our Reimagining Policing call to action, the Alliance has raised awareness and brought focus to how we can change systems to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color.

MBK Rising!

In February 2019, MBK Rising! brought together hundreds of young men and leaders working to break down barriers that too often leave them at a disadvantage. From our town hall conversation with President Obama and Steph Curry where young men could ask questions, to a candid conversation on the interconnectedness of race, gender, and sexual orientation, the gathering created in-person and virtual moments to celebrate progress and rally people near and far to continue the work of building a bright future for each and every one of us.

“Prudential's long-standing commitment to My Brother’s Keeper began with President Obama’s call for the private and public sectors to come together to break down systemic barriers to opportunity for boys and young men of color. Our continued support is fueled by our conviction that MBK Alliance’s broad reach combined with local mobilization will create pathways to prosperity for every young man of color in America.”
- Lata Reddy Senior Vice President, Inclusive Solutions Prudential Financial, Inc. Chair, The Prudential Foundation, MBK Alliance Council Member
A hand holds up a sign that reads "No Justice. No Peace." alongside hashtags of Black people killed.

The Reimagine Policing

Call To Action

In June 2020, President Obama and MBK Alliance challenged mayors and city leaders to amplify their communities’ calls for policing reform and accountability. Over 330 communities—representing 13+ million Black people and including all of the 10 most populous U.S. cities—took our pledge to reimagine policing and redefine public safety. In March 2021, we released the Reimagine Policing: Progress to Date report documenting the pledge’s inspiration, sharing highlights of the participating cities’ progress, and offering next steps for building on the momentum of the pledge.

“We have to completely transform our public safety systems because that’s the only way we are going to get different outcomes... There are ways to organize police department operations to actually function fundamentally differently than this traditional model that we have of policing. This is a pathway to not only increase safety, but police legitimacy, which is fundamental to positive police-community relations.”
- Rashad Robinson, President of Color of Change
A group photo of people handing out food at a food drive.

MBK Youth, Communities and Partners Impacting Communities During a Dual Pandemic

Through two years of navigating through a global health pandemic, with COVID-19, and a national racism pandemic, our MBK youth, communities, and partners stepped up to support their neighbors through food drives, virtual programming, care packages, and providing devices to help with online learning. Through our COVID-19 Town Hall Series,  our Mental Health and Wellness in a Racism Pandemic Town Hall with John Lewis Opens in a new tab , our partnerships with Lyft and other partners, and our increased investments in our Seed and Impact Communities, the Alliance was able to support our communities as they continued their work reduce barriers and expand opportunity for boys and young men of color and their families during this time of unparalleled uncertainty.

“MBK Alliance remains critically important because of its ability to elevate and support the contributions of boys and young men of color to their communities and the country, while confronting the systemic challenges they face. Since its inception, MBK Alliance has mobilized mayors and civic and community leaders to work together to remove barriers and create pathways of opportunity for boys and young men of color and in doing so all whose opportunities are limited by inequity. At its best, MBK Alliance is forging a path to an America that offers and keeps its promise to all Americans.”
- Jim Shelton, Chief Investment and Impact Officer at Blue Meridian Partners; MBK Advisory Council Member

MBK Moves Forward

“I’m thrilled to officially join the Obama Foundation as the Executive Director for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. Having grown up in rural Louisiana and seeing so many struggles first hand, I deeply and personally understand the importance of creating opportunity for everyone, equitably. ”
- Adren Wilson, Incoming Executive Director, MBK Alliance
A chest up picture of Adren Wilson. He has a deep skin tone and short hair that is shaped up. He has brown eyes and almost transparent glasses. He has a nice white smile. He is wearing a denim color and pattern suit, a white button up, and a tie with a blue knit pattern.