My Brother's Keeper Update: Mentors Wanted

My Brother's Keeper task force releases progress report.

These days, it very often takes a community to help transform young boys of color into successful and even extraordinary men. To help ensure the success of President Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative, the White House is calling on all American adults, including members of the administration, to make a commitment to mentor or tutor boys and help reverse the trend of under achievement, which often leads to violence and entry into the juvenile justice system.

On Friday, the My Brother's Keeper task force released a progress report on the initiative following 90 days of meetings with stakeholders and community leaders across the nation and a review of statistics and government programs "that have the potential to enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones."

"We believe that the key to working to improve the lives of boys and young men of color, indeed for all of our youth, is to make sure that the communities around them are investing in them and that means everyone," Broderick Johnson, chairman of the task force, told reporters Thursday evening.

The 60-page report's key recommendations are centered on a "cradle-to-college-and-career approach," which includes: preparing boys to enter school ready to learn; ensuring they are reading at grade level by third grade; ensuring they are ready for college or a career after graduating from high school; encouraging post-secondary education or training; and reducing violence and providing a second chance.

It also recommends a national campaign to recruit mentors, encourages a culture of reading at home and calls for expanding summer youth programs and pre-apprenticeships.

"We know what works. The question is how do we take what works to scale," said White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Jarrett said that in the coming weeks there would be "a series of announcements" from the philanthropic, business and non-profit communities of efforts to support the goals outlined in the progress report.

The president also is expected to announce that he has tapped former NBA star turned entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson to co-captain with Joe Echevarria, chief executive of the consulting firm Deloitte, a private-sector effort, as part of the initiative.

Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.

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