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Obama Foundation also announces MBK Rising!, a national convening marking the fifth anniversary of My Brother’s Keeper

CHICAGO—Today, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance), an initiative of the Obama Foundation, announced the winners of its inaugural MBK Community Challenge Competition. The Foundation selected 19 organizations across 10 states and Puerto Rico as national models to expand evidence-based initiatives to reduce youth violence, grow effective mentorship programs, and measurably improve the lives of boys and young men of color. There are ten winning “National Impact Communities” and nine “Seed Communities.”

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. Winning organizations will share more than $5 million in grants, direct technical assistance, and evaluation support. Youth and leaders from many of the organizations will participate in the Obama Foundation’s 2018 Summit in Chicago November 18-19.

MBK Alliance also announced it will host MBK Rising!, its first national convening. MBK Rising! will bring together the growing network of MBK Communities and boys and young men of color-focused organizations, young men of color, elected officials, and cross-sector leaders to join President Obama to celebrate progress, spotlight what’s working, and uplift the voices of youth.

The gathering will take place in Oakland, CA, in February 2019, marking the fifth anniversary of the initial launch of My Brother’s Keeper by President Obama. My Brother’s Keeper Oakland and My Brother & Sister’s Keeper San Francisco will co-chair the host committee. MBK Rising! is by invitation only, but interested young men and practitioners working to address aligned issues can review application information at Registration opens on Wednesday, December 5.

National Impact Communities

  • NACA Inspired Schools Network / MBK Albuquerque (Albuquerque, NM)

  • Mass Mentoring Partnership, Inc. / MBK Boston (Boston, MA)

  • Black Family Development Inc. / MBK Detroit (Detroit, MI)

  • Youth Guidance and Thrive Chicago / MBK Chicago (Chicago, IL)

  • Change Happens / MBK Houston (Houston, TX)

  • Liberty Hill Foundation / MBK LA County (Los Angeles, CA)

  • Sierra Health Foundation Center for Health Program Management / MBK Sacramento Collaborative (Sacramento, CA)

  • Puerto Rico Community Foundation / Puerto Rico MBK (San Juan, PR/Loíza, PR)

  • Urban Strategies Council / MBK Oakland (Oakland, CA)

  • Nepperhan Community Center, Inc. / Yonkers MBK (Yonkers, NY)

National Seed Communities

  • Juma Ventures (Atlanta, GA)

  • Youth Leadership Institute - Fresno Boys and Men of Color (Fresno, CA)

  • African-American Empowerment Network (Omaha, NE)

  • Orlando Community & Youth Trust Inc. (Orlando, FL)

  • RYSE (Richmond, CA)

Chicago Seed Grants

  • BUILD, Inc. (Chicago, IL)

  • Lawndale Christian Legal Center (Chicago, IL)

  • New Life Centers of Chicagoland, NFP (Chicago, IL)

  • South Shore Drill Team & Performing Arts Ensemble (Chicago, IL)

Full details on each project can be found on

"After an exhaustive application and review process we have identified a cohort of communities and organizations we believe can show the nation what it takes to build safe and supportive communities where boys and young men of color can thrive,” said Michael D. Smith, Executive Director of MBK Alliance and Director of Youth Opportunity Programs at the Obama Foundation. “The MBK Alliance team is committed to providing these communities with the tools, support, and access they need to accelerate impact that not only meets urgent needs today but that tackles the systemic barriers that prevent too many of our children from achieving their dreams.”

“President Obama has said that he will be committed to the mission of My Brother’s Keeper for the rest of his life,” said Broderick D. Johnson, MBK Alliance Advisory Council Chair. “This investment we are announcing today into a range of communities across the country signifies this commitment. And it sends a message to leaders of all sectors—public and private; non-profit and corporations—that it will take action from everyone to ensure that all young people have every opportunity to achieve their dreams. Zip codes shouldn’t matter. Where someone starts in life shouldn’t matter. Race and ethnicity shouldn’t matter. Today, we are thrilled to applaud these organizations and all others working hard to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color. Through this effort, and through our continued relationship with all MBK Communities, we are committed to accelerate progress and to spur action across the country.”

Impact Communities will receive:

  • Two-year engagement led by MBK Alliance and implementation partners to identify gaps and assets, develop recommendations, and support an implementation plan;

  • Access to implementation and content partners to advise on overarching “Local Action Plan” development and long-term infrastructure to sustain the work;

  • Between $100,000 to $500,000 over two years to replicate or scale mentoring or youth violence prevention interventions; and

  • $50,000-$75,000 per year, for two years, in matching funds to backbone organizations for the purpose of hiring MBK Alliance Community Coordinators.

Seed Communities and  organizations will receive:

  • Access to MBK Alliance’s implementation and content partners to advise on overarching plan development and long-term infrastructure to sustain the work; and

  • $50,000 to pilot interventions in violence prevention and/or mentoring for a sub-population of boys and young men of color in the community.

As Chicago is the Obama Foundation’s hometown, MBK Alliance will invest in an overall planning and engagement process in Chicago as well as a unique cohort model of five organizations, including an Impact winner and four Seed Communities, which are advancing innovative solutions for young men on the city’s South, West, and Southwest sides. Additionally, the California Endowment has partnered with MBK Alliance to fund the Impact Communities selected competitively from the State of California.

In addition to the winning communities, the Obama Foundation also released a listing of “MBK Communities to Watch” on its website today. While MBK Alliance was not able to offer these communities funding through the Community Challenge Competition, the organizations in this listing clearly demonstrated a consistent track record of success working on behalf of boys and young men of color and presented promising plans for the future. MBK Alliance will continue supporting the broader network of communities that applied for the competition and those that accepted the MBK Community Challenge. Earlier this week, MBK Alliance launched the MBK Network, a platform to offer tools, resources, and convening opportunities designed to bolster MBK Communities and aligned organizations, while promoting action, strengthening interventions, and spotlighting and spreading practices and policies that work.

Applications for the MBK Community Challenge Competition were accepted in April and May of this year. The Obama Foundation received more than 100 applications from across the continental United States and Puerto Rico from nearly 1,000 registered applicants. The Obama Foundation conducted a rigorous review process, which included review by field leaders, consultation with practitioners and experts, video interviews with the full project teams, and site visits to all finalist organizations.

MBK Alliance has partnered with Cities United and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to lend their organizational expertise throughout both the competition application process and the onboarding of winning communities. The competition is made possible thanks to generous support from the Ford Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Microsoft Corp. is also a generous supporter of the Obama Foundation, including support of the MBK Alliance and initiatives encouraging safe and healthy communities.

Background on the MBK Community Challenge

Through the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, launched by President Obama in 2014, nearly 250 communities in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia accepted the call to action to adopt innovative approaches, strengthen supports, and build ladders of opportunity for boys and young men of color and other underserved youth. The 2014 Community Challenge called for local public and private leaders to convene their communities and youth to develop a local action plan, which would include concrete goals, a protocol for tracking data, benchmarks for tracking progress, and available resources to support communities’ efforts.

Since the launch of the 2014 Community Challenge, communities have formed local task forces, hired staff, and made strides on complex challenges, including mentor deficits, school discipline reform, literacy and youth/law enforcement relationships. Some states, including New York, Michigan, and Ohio, have formed statewide MBK Community Challenge alliances, providing financial and in-kind resources.

President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper in February 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure all youth can reach their full potential. In 2015 the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) was launched, inspired by My Brother’s Keeper, to scale and sustain the mission. In late 2017, MBK Alliance became an initiative of the Obama Foundation. Within the Obama Foundation, MBK Alliance leads a cross-sector national call to action focused on building safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color where they feel valued and have clear pathways to


Contact: Crystal Carson, [email protected]