Urban Strategies Council and our partners in the Oakland-Alameda County Alliance for Boys and Men of Color appreciate and applaud the President’s announcement of a new partnership focused on improving outcomes for boys and men of color.  The President’s effort, coupled with the work already under way among public sector and community leaders in Oakland and Alameda County, will help us to achieve what all of us desire for our children: that they can achieve academically in safe and healthy communities, realize their aspirations for careers and families, and apply their talents to strengthening their communities and the nation.

We also applaud the leadership and courage of Dr. Robert Ross and the Board and staff of The California Endowment not only for their early recognition and attention to issues confronting boys and men of color but also for their investments and actions to implement solutions that work. We also acknowledge the leadership of former Oakland Schools Superintendent, Tony Smith, who created the African American Male Achievement Office within the school district to demonstrate the important role that public institutions can and must play in disrupting patterns of inequity and improving outcomes for boys and men of color.

Our greatest appreciation, however, must go to the many educators and community and faith-based organizations that work tirelessly every day to support young men of color by providing safe places and nurturing adult relationships for young men of color to develop and prosper, and have been doing so without adequate funding and with little recognition.  It is our hope that the President’s efforts build upon their lessons and support these organizations and the valuable contributions t they make to improving the lives of boys and men of color.

Below are some stark, undeniable facts presented by President Obama that also drive us in our work:

  • By the time they hit fourth grade, 86 percent of African American boys and 82 percent Hispanic boys are reading below proficiency levels — compared to 54 percent of white fourth graders reading below proficiency levels.
  • African American and Hispanic young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their white peers — and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.

We look forward to learning more about the President’s initiative and how our local organizations can work together to accomplish the important goal of supporting healthy, educated and contributing young men of color.

Watch the President’s speech below:

What we’re excited about:

President Obama announced a new initiative with leading foundations and businesses that will take a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to build ladders of opportunity and unlock the full potential of boys and young men of color — and they’re getting to work immediately.

He also signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to help determine which public and private efforts are working, how the Federal government can support those efforts, and how we can get more folks involved in those efforts across the board.

“That doesn’t only benefit our kids facing tough circumstances — it benefits all Americans.”

We agree!