MBKA November Newsletter

Message from the Director, Michael Smith

President Obama and young men.

As the year comes to a close, I want to thank you on behalf of the entire MBK Alliance family for your unwavering commitment to our shared mission. 2017 brought with it many changes but one thing that remained the same was our collective dedication to our boys and young men and the phenomenal organizations, companies and communities that are devoted to their success. In the past year alone, MBK Alliance awarded more than $1 million in grants to dozens of grassroots organizations working to expand opportunity and disrupt broken systems. We helped thousands of young people get jobs, keep jobs and improve skills at our Memphis Pathways to Opportunity Summit and follow-up to our Summits in Oakland and Detroit. We hosted several catalytic events across the country, including our Regional Summit in Long Beach, our MBK Boston Solutions Session and our Gathering of Nations Tribal Youth Summit in Albuquerque. And, we continued to help build the infrastructure needed to ensure we can track progress and plan for success through efforts like the launch of the Equity Intelligence Platform pilot. In this newsletter, you will read about just some of the tremendous progress that continues in MBK Communities and partner organizations since President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper nearly four years ago. In 2018 and beyond, we are excited to continue to build upon decades of work and numerous lessons learned to recognize the unique challenges our boys and young men face, and the unique gifts and talents they bring to our communities and country. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we prepare to announce some exciting new opportunities for partners, communities, and citizens. Until then, we wish you and yours the Happiest of Holidays!

MBK Alliance Voices

MBK Oakland youth leader Brandon.

Committed to advancing achievement and opportunity for boys and young men of color, Oakland was one of the first cities to accept the “My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge,” and have responded to it with a uniquely Oakland approach. Learn more about MBK Oakland from youth leader Brandon.

In November, MBK Alliance in partnership with MBK Albuquerque hosted a positive dialogue with police officers in Albuquerque, NM as part of the Prospero! Pitch Competition with our partners from the City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Community Foundation. Read this powerful reflection from Katon, a student leader and participant at the dialogue about a recent interaction he had with an officer.

Native American Community Academy Foundation

Recently MBK Alliance awarded NACA a project-based grant to support and further develop Karuna Colectiva a student-led cooperative intended to build 21st century skills through a process where young Native students work, learn, and earn in real world market-based settings with mentors and peers. Read more about the work from Reshawn Edison, a student and leader in the program.

MBK Communities in Action

Pre-Conference Obama Foundation Summit

The Obama Foundation hosted its first Summit in Chicago October 31 through November 1. We were proud to include many representatives from MBK Communities and partner organizations to inform and be enriched by the conversation. Prior to the Summit, MBK Alliance hosted a Pre-Conference at the renowned Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men. Joined by MBK youth and leadership from around the country, the Pre-Conference included a dialogue with youth from Chicago and across the country, a panel session focused on impactful interventions in Chicago and a conversation with former US Secretary of Education and MBK Alliance Board Member Arne Duncan.

Prospero! Pitch Competition

On November 8, in partnership with MBK ABQ, the City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Community Foundation, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance hosted Prospero! a first-of-its-kind grant opportunity for nonprofit organizations working in the Greater Albuquerque area. Five organizations providing educational support, job training, mentorship, job readiness and small business support for young men of color were awarded a total of $100,000 to accelerate their work. Meet the 2017 Prospero! Pitch Competition Recipients here.

In partnership with MBK Alliance, the New York Public Library has launched a corporate mentoring program for high school aged youth in New York Public Schools. Over 30 young people will meet with mentors from companies like HSBC, News Corp, Holland & Knight, and Nike to build college and career readiness. Students will also visit mentors’ workplaces and other partner companies like the NBA to gain exposure to corporate settings and leaders.

MBK Community Spotlight

New York became the first state to accept President Obama’s MBK Community Challenge in 2016. Since launch, MBK NYS has been a catalyst for New York school districts, college and universities, and community groups to join forces in this critical mission. Recently, they hit a significant milestone by reaching more than 20 communities. From MBK Challenge Grants, to the innovative college preparation programs, to the investment in underrepresented individuals in teaching careers, to the family and community engagement programs, NYS MBK is having a profound impact on the lives of boys and young men of color Buffalo to Brooklyn. Learn more about the tremendous work of NYS MBK in their November Newsletter and make sure to subscribe.

In the news

The Important Work of My Brother's Keeper Continues

Broderick Johnson, MBK Alliance Chair, recently wrote for LinkedIn on the role of business in improving opportunities available to underserved youth to benefit the U.S. economy and individual communities. Partnering with businesses to encourage and strengthen their investments in employment and education opportunities for young men of color has been at the core of MBK’s work since the very beginning. Read more of the LinkedIn op-ed here.

MBK Alliance Executive Director and Director of Youth Initiatives of the Obama Foundation Michael Smith will join the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE) program as part of its first cohort of fellows. The 2018 Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity are grassroots activists, writers, lawyers, academics, artists and strategists working in diverse communities across the United States and South Africa. Their work is paving new pathways to achieve true equity – fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies – for all. Meet the full list of inaugural fellows here.

“It was a high-profile guest list this week at the Obama Foundation summit, and one group of Chicago students had an unforgettable opportunity to learn from the event.”

My Brother's Keeper Expands to 21 Communities in New York

“The My Brother’s Keeper program is expanding in New York, where 21 communities have now joined the network … It was started by former President Barack Obama to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.”

“Clayton County Public School Superintendent Morcease Beasley and Ralph Simpson, deputy superintendent, have issued a challenge to all schools to establish a male mentoring and outreach program. The program, called My Brother’s Keeper Clayton, is based on the principles of My Brother’s Keeper started by former President Barack Obama in February 2014.”

Get Involved and Take Action


Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career. Join the movement to break down opportunity barriers for our youth. Become a mentor today.

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