Obama helps launch non-profit aimed at helping young men in Newark, other cities

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on May 04, 2015

Students pose with President Barack Obama at the launch of My Brother's Keeper Alliance at Lehman College in the Bronx borough of New York, Monday, May 4, 2015. My Brother's Keeper Alliance is an outgrowth of Obama's year-old My Brother's Keeper initiative, which has focused on federal government policies and grants designed to increase access to education and jobs.


BRONX, N.Y. — President Barack Obama today officially announced the launch of a nonprofit aimed at increasing opportunities for young men of color in Newark and other impoverished cities across the country.

In remarks delivered at Lehman College in the Bronx, the president laid out his vision for the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, which will help promote the initiative of the same name he introduced last year.

"(Since then), it's been pursuit of that one goal — creating opportunity for everyone. You can't guarantee everybody's success. But we do strive to give everyone an equal shot," he said.

Initially envisioned after Trayvon Martin's death in Florida, the initiative has since formed partnerships with Newark and other communities to help establish programs aimed at helping young minority men develop mentoring relationships, steer clear of violence, improve graduation rates and grade-level reading skills, and become prepared for college and careers.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has also characterized the program as a way to help create stronger relationships between young male members of the community and police, particularly in the wake of a federal report that found city law enforcement routinly violated black citizens' civil rights.

Today, Obama acknowledged that similar dynamics are common across the country, and said My Brother's Keeper would also strive to ease tensions that helped lead to recent riots in Baltimore and other civil unrest.

"That sense of unfairness, powerlessness, people not hearing their voices — that's helped fuel some of the protests we've seen in Baltimore, and Ferguson, and even right here in New York," he said.

"Too many places in this country, black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men, they experience being treated differently by law enforcement."

After the initiative's birth last year, Newark appointed Rev. David Jefferson Jr., the son of Metropolitan Baptist Church Pastor David Jefferson Sr., to oversee its own program.

Last week, it held a "Men of Color Summit" advising young men on topics including fatherhood, reintegration into the community after incarceration, financial education and entrepreneurship, according to the city's website.

MBK Alliance has tapped various donors from the business world to help fund its work, including Newark-based Prudential. The insurance giant said it has committed a total of $13 million, including $3 million toward establishing the organization and technical assistance for the communities participating in the program.

Obama thanked the various donors, politicians, celebrities and others in attendance this afternoon for their involvement in the program, which he said boiled down to spreading one simple message to the country's young men of color.

"The simple point to make is 'you matter.' You matter to us," he said.

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commented 2015-05-07 13:43:34 -0700
Well i live in Wilmington nc, and i have been trying to get the same thing here. Every other day I look on the news it’s another person I know dead. we have nobody to help us because certain places are getting singled out. If it’s government funder let it be nationwide. Ppl need to stop being greedy with money that’s not theirs. if it’s not comucoming out of your pocket and its your job to help with the crimes and violence on the streets so what you supposed to do. And I’m not saying give the government funding away but some ppl act like it’s their money, until somebody in their family die or get hurt. BUT PRESIDENT OBAMA WE NEED YOUR HELP IN WILMINGTON NC. THE KILLING IS GETTING OUT OF CONTROL, AND I FEEL IF WE HAD MORE JOBS AND OPPORTUNITY HERE IN WILMINGTON THAT THE CRIME RATE WILL DROP BECAUSE PPL CAN WORK AND NOT KEEP GETTING TURNED FOWN BECAUSE OF WHAT WE USE TO DO. I WANNA WORK NOW. THATHE PAST IS CALLED THE PAST FOR A REASON.