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A Movement Six Years in the Making

President Barack Obama gives remarks on the Trayvon Martin verdict in the James Brady Press Briefing Room on July 19, 2013.

President Barack Obama gives remarks on the Trayvon Martin verdict in the James Brady Press Briefing Room on July 19, 2013. President Barack Obama hosts a discussion with Ron Brown College Preparatory High School students.

We started My Brother’s Keeper so that every boy and young man of color in America would know that their dreams mattered as much as any other child’s.

When President Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin,” he hoped his words would lead to a more empathetic understanding of the danger facing a son who looked like him. President Obama challenged us all to address the unique challenges of our boys and young men of color. That led to the creation of My Brother’s Keeper six years ago, which has played such an important role in calling the nation to action to expand opportunity and reduce barriers for our youth in greatest need.”

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama

February 27, 2014 – My Brother’s Keeper Launch

President Obama gives remarks at the My Brother's Keeper launch

President Barack Obama joins White House mentees in the East Room for the launch of My Brother’s Keeper on February 27, 2014.

We started My Brother’s Keeper so that every boy or young man of color in America would know that their dreams mattered as much as any other child. And when I reflect on that day six years ago I can still feel the energy, hope, and possibility I felt then. Since that day, our movement has grown into an Alliance that has brought together hundreds of communities with thousands of Americans, all committed to helping young people across this country achieve their dreams.”

President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

September 30, 2014 – Launch of the MBK Community Challenge

 In the fall of 2014, President Obama launched the MBK Community Challenge, which asked communities across the country to commit to “review local public policy, host action summits, and implement locally tailored action plans to address opportunity gaps” for boys and young men of color. Nearly 250 communities, known as MBK Communities, accepted the Challenge in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and 19 Tribal Nations. Newark was one of the first MBK Communities, and one of several cities where we hosted an Opportunity Summit, connecting the city’s young people with skills training, job placement and other educational opportunities.

MBK Philadelphia - MBK Community Challenge

Discovery Education and the School District of Philadelphia partnered to host a town hall in support of My Brother’s Keeper on May 7, 2015. My Brother’s Keeper challenged communities across the country to bring together local government leaders, law enforcement officials and educators, as well as advocacy, faith and business leaders to discuss key intervention points to improving the life outcomes of boys and young men of color through public-private partnerships and other measures.

In Philadelphia, too many of our boys and young men of color face disproportionate barriers to success. By bringing together key stakeholders and young people to have an honest conversation about our strengths and weaknesses, we as a city are better prepared to ensure that all of Philadelphia’s children have the opportunity to realize their goals. This effort enhances the quality of life for all citizens of every age, ethnicity, race and gender. President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge created unprecedented momentum to invest in young men of color, who are a critical part of the future of Philadelphia and the nation.”

Mayor Michael Nutter, 98th Mayor of Philadelphia, PA

February 27, 2018 – Newark Opportunity Summit

Obama Foundation Summit

Participants in MBK Alliance’s Pathways to Success: Boys and Young Men of Color Opportunity Summit in Newark, NJ on February 27, 2018.

To see hundreds of young men and boys from our community getting haircuts, being fitted for suit jackets, and updating resumes in preparation for a job interview was a soul-stirring event. The Pathways to Success Opportunity Summit represents a monumental moment for the City of Newark, the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Prudential Foundation, and the many stakeholders and community partners who came together to make it a success. It shows the true power of community when we can organize around a common goal to support successful entry into the workforce for our young men of color.”

Mayor Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark, NJ

May 30, 2014 – MBK Task Force Meeting

Eric Holder - MBK Task Force

President Obama attends a meeting with the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to receive a 90-day report on its progress in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 30, 2014.

The tragic deaths of too many young black men brought long-simmering divides to the surface. None of those divides were limited to any one city, state, or geographic region. They were issues that were truly national in scope. They demanded a constructive response from our entire country, which happened and in so many ways was led by young people. The launch of My Brother’s Keeper was critical as well, because it helped to channel anger and hurt into action and meaningful policy change at the federal, state and local level. And, it created a moment for the nation to have an honest conversation about how we’ve failed young men of color, and commit to righting those wrongs through meaningful systemic changes. I was proud to be part of this work, and thrilled to see how it continues to take shape and change lives across the country today.”

Eric Holder, 82nd Attorney General of the United States

White House Mentorship and Leadership Program

Noah McQueen - StoryCorps

President Obama launched the White House Mentorship and Leadership Program that included DC-area high school students. The students participated in a number of activities, ranging from workshops in the Roosevelt Room to lunches with the President to pick-up basketball with the President on the White House basketball court.

President Obama sat down for a heart-to-heart with White House mentee Noah McQueen, 18, who was helped by the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. The interview was facilitated by StoryCorps. Watch the full  interview here (Opens in a new tab).

President Obama gave me that calming affirmation you look for in your family. The type of understanding you covet from a mentor, father, or uncle in your family. President Obama illustrated to me that my past tribulations would be my launching pad for the future. He affirmed that my improbable story, along with many other black boys in America, mattered. MBK made it possible for me to dream. The mentors they provided me with early on became an integral part of my family over the past years. The love, patience, guidance, and encouragement they have shown me helped propel me to the man I am today. As the first person to graduate from college in my family, MBK gave me the resources, wisdom, and foresight to be a leader in my community. I am a better man today because of the love and mentorship of My Brother’s Keeper.”

Noah McQueen, White House Mentee
White House Mentee Luncheon

On the first anniversary of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, President Barack Obama has lunch with participants in the White House Mentorship and Leadership Program in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2015.

The moment of sitting next to President Obama was a lesson that he taught me that was unspoken, but understood. If he would’ve said what I felt, and I believe we all felt, it would have gone something like this: “You matter. You as a black male matter. To all of you sitting around this table, you matter. Every male of color in this country matters.” He also taught me that no matter who or what you become in life, you’re not above giving back and that the higher you climb life’s ladder, you also have a higher responsibility to uplift others. Here is the President of the United States, charged with the safety and development of the entire country, sitting at a dinner table with a group of Black, Latino and Native American teenagers because he believed in us and wanted to give us his greatest resource, his time. Mr. President, you will forever be my President, and thank you for all that you’ve done for our country and people who look like me.”

Jerron Hawkins, White House Mentee
White House Mentees

President Barack Obama walks with mentees on the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 14, 2014.

I’ll never forget this day. We were having a financial aid workshop for our mentees in the Roosevelt Room, and President Obama stopped by to surprise the young men. One of them joked with the President that he should play them in basketball one day. The President shocked them by saying, “Let’s play now!” We then walked to the White House basketball court where President Obama spent well over an hour playing HORSE and sharing life lessons with these young men. It’s not just the expressions on faces that paint the story. It’s the look on his face as well! It will always remind me of the significant moments like these also meant—and continue to mean—to him. The embodiment of MBK—taking time to reach out and inspire young folks to dream big dreams and to make those dreams happen!”

Broderick Johnson, Former White House Cabinet Secretary & Chair, MBK Alliance Advisory Council.

May 4, 2015 – My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Launch

White House Mentees

President Barack Obama, shakes hands with Darinel Montero, left, from Bronx International High School who introduced him at the MBK Alliance launch on May 4, 2015 at Lehman College.

John Legend at MBK Alliance - May 5, 2014

President Obama participates in a roundtable with young men, John Legend and My Brother’s Keeper Leadership in the Bronx, NY on May 4, 2015.

This moment changed my life forever! It was the start of mentorship, opportunity, and planted the seed of hope that would carry me through my greatest challenges.”

Malachi Hernandez, MBK Boston Advisory Board & MBK Alliance Advisory Council

November 2018 – MBK Community Challenge Competition

MBK Community Challenge Competition

On November 15, 2018, MBK Alliance 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.

February 18, 2019 – MBK Rising!

President Barack Obama and a group of men sit on a stage. One man in the center holds a microphone. A large "MBK Rising" graphic is behind them.

Nearly five years to the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, MBK Rising! brought together hundreds of young men of color and leaders working to break down barriers that too often leave boys and young men of color at a disadvantage. From a 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 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.

There is an impact we all can have in our communities. President Obama challenged all of us to do something, and the action has been followed and it is all because of the idea he had six years ago to do something about the outcomes of our boys and young men of color. It awakened me to the responsibilities we have with our platforms. How I carry myself, how I speak, how I interact with folks can make a huge difference – whether it is 5 seconds, 10 minutes, or an hour. We all have the opportunity to shape someone’s perspective and that one moment can be a huge difference for a lifetime.”

Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry’s Remarks at MBK Rising! 2019
My Brother’s Keeper Alliance - Rising

President Obama surrounded by hundreds of young leaders from across the nation gathered at MBK Rising! in Oakland in February of 2019.