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End of Year Reflection: Michael D. Smith, MBK Alliance Executive Director

This picture shows President Obama in a room full of men wearing business professional clothes, 
laughing and smiling together.

We want to end the year by first thanking you for everything you do to  ensure our boys and young men can achieve their biggest dreams. Whether you’re a partner, donor, MBK Community Leader, or a friend and supporter, you give us the fuel we need to keep this movement strong and growing. 

It’s been almost two years since the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance became a part of the Obama Foundation family. Since then, we’ve been refining our approach to best support the extraordinary leaders who stand up and show up for our boys and young men everyday. 

This year, we took a step back and decided to focus on what matters most and ensure we’re maximizing our tools, time, and resources to create the biggest impact. I could not be more proud that we will end 2019 having invested $5 million into some of the nation’s most innovative organizations—organizations that are driving policy reforms and scaling effective programs to serve thousands more boys and young men of color than they were a year ago.

In addition to that significant investment, here are our top six highlights of what we’ve been up to in 2019.

MBK Impact and Seed Communities

Halfway through their first year of program operations, nearly 3,000 youth have been served by our investment in Impact and Seed Communities. We’re also excited to see that ur total investment of $5 million has already been doubled by matching funds from local governments, nonprofits, and corporations.

Impact Community Leaders

There are now ten Impact Community Leaders dedicating 100 percent of their time to ensuring success in some of the nation's largest cities with some of the greatest needs. Meet these inspiring leaders here.

MBK Community of Learning and Practice

In August, we launched the MBK Community of Learning and Practice—an online space for boys and young men of color practitioners to promote innovation, share best practices, and cultivate authentic connections to advance their MBK missions. More than 90 community leaders representing 40 MBK jurisdictions across the country have participated in bi-weekly learning calls about organizational infrastructure and leadership, data, youth diversion, and school discipline.

MBK Framework to Affect Systems Change

In November 2018, we convened a committee of experts to develop and define standards of excellence for communities serving boys and young men of color. The collective effort has culminated in the development of the  MBK Framework to Affect Systems Change, a national standard of excellence outlining the principles, indicators and processes to accelerate progress on complex social conditions for boys and young men of color. You can learn more about the framework and follow along our piloting progress  here.

MBK Rising!

Take some time to reflect on MBK Rising!, where more than 1,400 people from our community gathered in Oakland for plenaries, tailored track workshops, breakout sessions, community dinners, service projects, and more. We’re still hearing from young people and community leaders who were inspired and are now benefiting from new connections they made at the event!

More than 1,400 individuals participated in MBK Rising!, representing 188 nationwide MBK communities. We engaged 160 speakers for mainstage and breakouts, prioritizing the voices of people who are young, ethnically diverse, LGBTQ or women. There were three mainstage sessions and an opening community dinner, all featuring youth emcees. And, together with our partners, we facilitated over 30 unique mini-plenaries, tailored track workshops, and breakout sessions. We continue to hear from young people and community leaders from across the nation that were inspired by Rising!, made new connections or learned new skills—and the sessions continue to inspire.  Take some time to relive and refresh over the holidays.

Obama Connect and MBK Slack Community

In September, the MBK Alliance welcomed more than 400 MBK Community leaders to Obama Connect,an online platform that allows Obama Foundation program participants from around the world to create profiles and connect with fellow changemakers. We also welcomed our leaders to the MBK Slack Community, an online communication tool to share progress, best practices, and lessons learned.

Finally, I want to thank all of you—for making this past year such a memorable one, and for working tirelessly to address the barriers facing boys and young men of color. Wishing each of you a happy and restful holiday break with family and friends.