During January’s State of the Union address, President Obama included one sentence midway through his remarks that didn’t receive much attention during the post-speech analysis: “And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.”
Today the White House is expanding on that sentence and launching its new initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper,” aimed at providing more services for young African-American and Hispanic men to address and the social, economic and judicial disparities.
White House officials identified several focus areas for the initiative: solving inequalities within schools and the criminal justice system, increasing mentoring opportunities in minority communities, and strengthening families. Statistics are indeed sobering, with young men of color at elevated risk of school suspension, unemployment and entanglement with the criminal justice system.
“When we let this many boys and young men fall behind – we are crippling our ability to reach our full potential as a nation,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president.
To finance this effort, more than $200 million has been pledged by numerous foundations and businesses, including McDonalds and the National Basketball Association. Little federal funding is being requested from Congress.
“I have no desire to be one of those Presidents who are just on the list—you see their pictures lined up on the wall,” then Senator Obama said back in 2007. “I really want to be a President who makes a difference.”
Read the full announcement here.