MBK Model Communities
MBK Model Communities is an initiative of the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance that seeks to expand the implementation of evidence-based practices and impact to communities across the country. As part of the MBK Model Communities initiative, the MBK Alliance has identified four MBK communities that have demonstrated impact in at least one of the six MBK milestones by instituting programming and initiatives that have positively shifted outcomes in the educational or violence reduction systems throughout their municipal areas.
These MBK Model Communities were selected from a network of hundreds that have an evidence-based track record of success in positively shifting outcomes for boys and young men of color. The four are: Newark, New Jersey; Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Yonkers, New York, each representing a tangible example of the population-level impact that communities can have when working to achieve the MBK Milestones. The MBK Milestones are six key life milestones that research shows are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact.
We launched our MBK Model Communities initiative during the MBK Impact in Action convening with President Obama in Chicago. The event highlighted and celebrated the incredible successes of each community and connected representatives from each community with institutional stakeholders from across the country.
The key purpose of Model Communities is to expand the implementation of evidence-based practices and impact across the MBK Milestones in communities across the country. As model communities work through their five-year term, the entire MBK Network will benefit, in real time, as the Alliance amplifies their learnings, best practices, and efforts. Through this investment, we expect these communities to be better positioned to achieve impact and, as a result, elevate the field and strengthen the MBK Alliance network.
MBK Model Communities have direct access to coaching, evaluation support, and peer-to-peer learning. Additionally, the Alliance will invest nearly $1 million in direct funding and resources, and provide technical assistance for each model community’s work to be operated and managed by a backbone entity (a local government agency, public-private partnership, or designated non-profit organization).
Homicides in the city of Newark were down 55 percent in 2022 as compared to 2013. The Newark Opportunity Youth Network leads the Model Communities initiative for MBK Newark.
“I am incredibly proud that Newark has been named an MBK Model Community,” said Mayor Baraka. “It is invigorating and uplifting to see the spread of this holistic collaboration to treat the national epidemic of violence as a public health crisis. That same spirit of collaboration has brought hope and healing to our city in the most tangible, measurable ways through the launch of the City of Newark’s Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery. Newark is eager to share our success in reducing violence with other communities, and we look forward to learning from other communities who have achieved other key milestones. MBK Newark has had a profound impact on the lives of our residents, and I look forward to working with them as they embark on a renewed challenge to address the remaining five MBK Milestones that will improve outcomes for our boys and young men of color.”
Through intentional collaboration between multiple stakeholder agencies, the city of Omaha has reduced homicides by 30 percent from 2011-2022. The African-American Empowerment Network leads the Model Communities initiative for MBK Omaha
“The collaborative efforts of hundreds of organizations and thousands of residents is reflected through the Empowerment Network, Omaha 360, Step-Up Omaha, City of Omaha, Omaha Police Department, foundations and the MBK partnership,” said Willie Barney. “We want to thank and recognize all of our partners, especially those on the front lines, doing the work every day with our youth and families. Through comprehensive collaboration across all sectors of the community, we are starting to return to 40 year lows in gun violence by addressing collaboration, prevention, intervention, enforcement, reentry and focusing on root causes. We know there’s a lot more work ahead to continue creating safe and thriving communities in every zip code and we’re excited to build on and expand this amazing partnership with the Obama Foundation and MBK in Omaha and across the country.”
Tulsa has ensured all elementary schools have early learning pre-K and has increased attendance for students of color by 33 percent. ImpactTulsa leads the Model Communities initiative for MBK Tulsa.
“This selection highlights our collective commitment to transforming systems and creating lasting, positive change for boys and young men of color,” said Ashley Harris Philippsen. “By providing MBK Tulsa with the tools, resources, and support needed to scale their impactful work, we are supporting communities across the country to learn from Tulsa’s example and join us in our mission to create economic mobility for all. We believe in the power of community and collaboration, and we are confident that together, we can pave the way for greater economic mobility and opportunities for every boy and young man of color to thrive.”
At 91 percent, the city of Yonkers has the highest graduation rate in the state of New York for students of color. The Yonkers Independent School District leads the Model Communities initiative for MBK Yonkers.
“It’s being intentional about our work to change outcomes for young men of color,” said Dr. Edwin M. Quezada. “Graduating from high school is one of their most important milestones. Their diploma is the key that opens doors to opportunities for whatever our young people of color can dream. Success must be part of their life experience. In partnership with the MBK Alliance this is a reality in our learning community. Ninety percent (90%) of our young men of color graduate on time. We work tirelessly so that our young men know they are valued, accepted, respected, cared for, and loved. In Yonkers, we are My Brother’s Keeper.”
The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is grateful to all of the donors and partners that are currently making its new MBK Model Communities initiative possible and who have long supported the MBK Alliance’s mission to build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color where they feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunity: