What is MBK?

February 27, 2014, President Barack Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. The President issued a challenge to local officials to become MBK communities and accept the MBK Challenge. The Challenge asks that MBK Communities carry out a coherent “cradle-to-college-career strategy” for improving the life outcomes of boys and young men of color by accomplishing the following six goals:

1. Ensure all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready.
2. Ensure all children read at grade level by 3rd grade.
3. Ensure all youth graduate from high school.
4. Ensure all youth complete post‐secondary education or training.
5. Ensure all youth out of school are employed.
6. Ensure all youth remain safe from violent crime.

Did the City of Philadelphia join the Challenge?

There are four MBK Challenge steps:
1. Accept the President’s Challenge
2. Convene a Local Action Summit
3. Conduct a policy review and form recommendations for action
4. Launch a plan of action

To see the full process for accepting the MBK challenge click here

The City of Philadelphia accepted the Challenge September 2014 and on November 12, 2014 held Philadelphia’s Local Action Summit  at the West Philadelphia Community Center.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Mayor Michael A. Nutter kicked off the summit with over 130 participants from the nonprofit, public, private, community and philanthropic sectors.

Photo by Mitchell Leff City of Philadelphia
Photo by Mitchell Leff
City of Philadelphia

The major findings from the Local Action Summit included increasing access to high-quality early education; providing additional out-of-school time activities for youth; engaging youth in the process of developing solutions to their challenges; ensuring high academic expectations for students; improving career mentorship and internship opportunities; and amplifying opportunities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system to access expungement services. In fulfillment of the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge, the City of Philadelphia will use the information from the Summit to contribute to a review of policy, programs and practices to respond better to the needs of youth and will issue a final plan of action in spring 2015.

Why the six MBK Milestones?
The President addressed this himself and the following points are taken from one of his speeches about the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative:

1. “We know that students of color are far more likely than their white classmates to find themselves in trouble with the law. If a student gets arrested, he’s almost twice as likely to drop out of school. By making sure our criminal justice system doesn’t just function as a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, we can help young men of color stay out of prison, stay out of jail. And that means then, they’re more likely to be employable, and to invest in their own families, and to pass on a legacy of love and hope.”

2. “If a black or Latino kid isn’t ready for kindergarten, he’s half as likely to finish middle school with strong academic skills. So by giving more of our kids access to high-quality early education — and by helping parents get the tools they need to help their children succeed — we can give more kids a better shot at the career they’re capable of, and the life that will make us all better off. So that’s point number one right at the beginning.”

3. “If a child can’t read well by the time he’s in 3rd grade, he’s four times less likely to graduate from high school by age 19 than one who can. And if he happens to be poor, he’s six times less likely to graduate. So by boosting reading levels, we can help more of our kids make the grade, keep on advancing, reach that day that so many parents dream of — until it comes close and then you start tearing up — and that’s when they’re walking across the stage, holding that high school diploma.”

4. “Black men are twice as likely as young white men to be ‘disconnected’ — not in school, not working. We’ve got to reconnect them. We’ve got to give more of these young men access to mentors. We’ve got to continue to encourage responsible fatherhood. We’ve got to provide more pathways to apply to college or find a job. We can keep them from falling through the cracks, and help them lay a foundation for a career and a family and a better life.”

5. “We know that Latino kids are almost twice as likely as white kids to be suspended from school. Black kids are nearly four times as likely. And if a student has been suspended even once by the time they’re in 9th grade they are twice as likely to drop out.”

Click here to read more Remarks by the President on “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative

How can I get involved?
To be more directly involved, please feel free to send an e-mail to MBKphilly@phila.gov


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