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Education News

Video: Houston Joins White House Initiative ‘My Brother’s Keeper’

Houston Mayor Annise Parker along with a host of professionals and community leaders are poised to develop a blueprint for tackling opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.


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Houston is among more than 100 communities nationwide to accept the White House initiative, My Brother’s Keeper.

The project was launched by President Obama in September so that communities could find solutions to help more low-income, young men of color graduate from high school and college — thus becoming more productive citizens and future leaders.

Last week, city officials held its first My Brother’s Keeper summit to set goals.

White House video about My Brother’s Keeper

Michael Smith is Special Assistant to the President. He says building and solidifying business partnerships will be key and M.B.K can use the Mayor’s Veterans Homelessness Initiative as a benchmark.

“It’s going to take an all hands-on deck moment with businesses and non-profits and governments coming together. The second step is making a big bet in saying we can tackle this goal and then tracking it along the way. And Houston has already made a major step and has actually shown with the Veterans’ Homelessness Challenge that they can have an impact where it’s been reduced by 50% in just two years,” says Smith. 

Stephen Williams is director of the Department of Health and Human Services and leads the local area initiative. He says the enthusiasm from local business networks who attended the summit brushed off on him.

“I feel really re-invigorated just hearing some of the testimony from the various sector leaders. We started this event asking them to answer certain questions, but when they got up, you saw that they were very passionate about their individual areas and we need to build on that,” says Williams. 

Smith says developing strong partnerships with the community and local businesses will be key.

“It’s going to take parents, it’s going to take families, it’s going to take young people, it’s going to take business leaders in figuring out what are the resources that you have, what are the talents, the ideas that you have to make a difference because no one sector, no one person can do it alone.”

City leaders will form workgroups to develop a tracking system to measure the effectiveness of the goals and policies created through the initiative.

Williams says a plan of action for My Brother’s Keeper is set to launch in April of 2015.