OAKLAND — For young men of color in the Bay Area, July 21st 2016 will be the day that new doors were opened and hope was renewed. Last week, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBKA) partnered with local and national organizations to host the inaugural Invest in Youth: Pathways to Success Boys and Men of Color Career Summit in Oakland, CA.
Nearly 1000 individuals attended the Summit to access hiring opportunities and community resources. Attendee Chris Johnson shared that he has spent the majority of his life in the foster care system. With the constant state of transition, 18-year-old Johnson has found it challenging to finish high school and even more difficult to find a job. After on-the-spot mentoring, resume-building, and interviewing at the Summit, Chris received two job offers – one from Macy’s and one from Starbucks.
In sharing what he plans to bring to his new job, Johnson said, “I’m a really good communicator and I’m really ambitious. I love fashion. I love clothes and I love to draw.”
With nearly 350 job offers extended on Thursday, Johnson is one of many who left the Summit with a renewed sense of opportunity. The Summit provided Johnson and others the chance to access community resources and social services and interview with local employers for on-the-spot hiring. Interactive workshops equipped attendees with soft skills and career advice to kick start professional growth. FedEx, Snapchat, Sprint, and Starbucks were among over 30 participating employers. A barber shop, a booth providing free ties and tying lessons, and other apparel stations offered young men the chance to feel polished and confident in interviews.
Highlights included youth performances and one-on-one engagement between jobseekers and philanthropic, nonprofit, and White House leaders, local government officials, and private sector CEOs. The Summit received high-profile support and attendance from U.S. Secretary of Education John King, NFL superstar and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf – whose city hosted the Summit – among others.
The Summit serves as an activation of a core component of MBKA’s national and local programmatic strategy. MBKA CEO Blair Taylor announced on Thursday that MBKA will expand deep local support around career pathways in cities such as Detroit, Albuquerque, and Newark in the next year. These Summits are part of a larger tapestry of national strategies that will address the six MBK milestones across the cradle-to-college and career continuum.
One such example is MBKA and Sprint’s collaborative commitment to providing over $1 million in wireless connectivity to Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Through this commitment, Sprint will provide four years of free wireless service to 500 students who would not otherwise have access to this critical 21st century technology. The wireless connectivity will be provided to students at OUSD schools through the Future Centers, a core component of programming offered by Mayor Schaaf’s Oakland Promise initiative. This partnership is representative of MBKA’s commitment to cross-sectoral solutions for youth.
Additionally, in support of advancing existing MBK-aligned initiatives across the country and in partnership with The Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps VISTA program and Public Allies, MBKA will deploy 18 individuals for a year of capacity-building service as AmeriCorps VISTA members. MBKA VISTAs will work alongside mission-aligned organizations in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and Newark.
CEO Blair Taylor said, "There is no group more disenfranchised right now than boys and men of color in places like the Bay Area and the cities to which MBKA is headed to next," Taylor said. "To me personally and to MBKA, that presents a real opportunity; one that we as a nation must take advantage of. MBKA will continue to provide support systems for our boys and men of color and to lift up the assets they bring to our workplaces, our families, our communities, and our nation. We look forward to continuing to use our platform to address what is the most pressing issue and, far more importantly, the most significant opportunity of our time.”
Born out of President Obama’s 2014 call to action to increase support for our nation’s boys and men of color and all youth, MBKA aims to ensure boys and young men of color reach their full potential despite unique barriers too often faced by this population. Our nation’s boys and men of color face a unique set of challenges that require a unique set of solutions, and MBKA is committed to continuing to ensure that talented young men like Chris Johnson have access to every opportunity they deserve.
About MBK Alliance
My Brother's Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) born out of President Obama's call to action to ensure all of our nation's boys and young men of color (BYMOC) have equal opportunity to live up to their full potential. In order to improve life outcomes, MBK Alliance is working to elevate the voices of our nation's BYMOC and to unite business, philanthropy, nonprofit, government, community leaders, and youth around this critical work. This collaborative, cross-sectoral movement led by MBK Alliance is breaking down barriers that BYMOC disproportionately face along the life path to create lasting social change. MBK Alliance was established in 2015 and appointed former Starbucks executive Blair Taylor as CEO in April 2016.
Contact: [email protected]