Ford and nine other foundations joined President Obama today for the signing of a presidential memorandum to expand opportunities for young men of color. Research has proven what we already know: These young men face major barriers on the path to adulthood, with higher drop-out rates, incarceration rates, unemployment rates and, worst of all, shorter lives.
Working together through the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, we can change the trajectory of these young men’s lives. Over the next 90 days, the foundations will explore what lessons we can harvest, building a blueprint for further action at both national and local level.
Follow the conversation on Twitter at #YMOC, add your voice and read the full announcement below.
Washington, DC—Today ten of America’s leading foundations announced a joint effort with the White House to help America’s young men of color reach their full potential in school, work and life. The foundations include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, California Endowment, Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Kapor Center for Social Impact, Open Society Foundations, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
In response to the urgent need for solutions, there has been a growing wave of investment to eliminate these barriers and help boys and young men of color connect to opportunity in communities nationwide. The ten foundations have recently approved or awarded $150 million to improve lifelong outcomes for boys and young men of color as part of their existing programming. Those foundations will seek to invest at least $200 million more, alongside additional investments from their peers in philanthropy and the business community.
“All of our sons and brothers need support and opportunities to be successful. As tomorrow’s leaders, young people of color will help define America’s future,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D, president and CEO of The California Endowment. “Now is the time to work together, invest in these young people, and provide them what they need to be responsible and healthy adults.
WHY YOUNG MEN OF COLOR
A growing body of research has shown that young men of color face significant barriers that make their path to adulthood especially challenging. They are more likely to grow up in poverty, live in neighborhoods where they are exposed to violence, and attend schools that lack the basic resources that kids need in order to succeed. They have fewer summer job opportunities where they can learn the value of work. As a result of these interlocking trends, young men of color are more likely to drop out of school, grow up to be chronically unemployed, and live shorter, less healthy lives.
“Now is the opportunity for expanding the field and addressing the policies to help remove the barriers to success for young men of color,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
“When every member of our society has the opportunity to succeed, our communities are stronger and our nation is stronger,” added Kenneth H. Zimmerman, director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Foundations. “We all have a stake in tapping the potential of young men of color, and we must work together to create more pathways for them to flourish.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
The announcement is the latest milestone in a growing movement to ensure that all young people, including young men of color, have opportunities to achieve and contribute to the American dream. Last year, the CEOs of 28 foundations formed the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color, pledging to address these issues, explore promising strategies, and support research to inform effective action. This new initiative aims to link and leverage those investments and commitments—and attract new partners—by making it easier for public and private sector parties to collaborate and spread solutions that work.
Cities, states, and school districts around the country have also responded with initiatives of their own, often focusing on better ways to help more young men of color stay on track in school, find opportunities to work and make healthier life choices. The President’s decision to establish a federal task force adds even more momentum and national leadership to a cause vital to America’s future.
“Many men of color are already working to make their communities better by helping young people reach their full potential,” explained Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “They are truly assets to any community, and one of the best ways to help young men succeed is to invest, connect and celebrate these grassroots leaders who are already making a difference.”
HOW THE NEW INITIATIVE WILL WORK
In addition to ongoing ($150 million) and new ($200 million) investments in programs that help young men of color succeed, the ten foundations are also each committing $750,000 to provide the infrastructure to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in the following areas: early child development and school readiness, 3rd grade literacy, educational opportunity, interactions with the criminal justice system, ladders to jobs and economic opportunity, and healthy families and communities.
Over the next 90 days, the foundations will assess which approaches have the highest potential to help the greatest number of young men. Those insights will be used to develop a blueprint for action that can leverage existing and new contributions from philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, faith-based institutions, the business community, and ordinary citizens.
“As a father of three sons and grandfather of one, I understand the need for all boys and young men have the opportunities they need from us to grow up successful and healthy. Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and co-founder of The Home Depot. “As a businessperson, it just makes sense that we invest where it matters most: in our future workforce, communities and country.”