WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - My Brother's Keeper is a White House initiative to keep America’s youth on track. The goal is to make sure young people, particularly young men of color, have figures in their lives that keep them on course to go to college and get a good job. But not everyone thinks the federal government should be involved in a program like this.
"This work has given me even greater reason to be optimistic because I see the real lives that are impacted," said Broderick Johnson, assistant to President Obama and Chair of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force.
My Brother's Keeper is a mentorship program aiming to set America’s youth up for success by partnering with communities across the country. He says giving young men of color a figure to look up to is vital.
"We are making progress, there’s no question about it," said Johnson. "We’re seeing young people filled with not just hope, but also tangible opportunities. Whether it’s summer jobs, whether it’s the lowering of suspension and expulsion rates."
President Obama grew up in a fatherless home. His message to young people in similar positions is that they can succeed in the face of adversity. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has taken the program and run with it in his home state.
"I’ve sat with a lot of kids and a lot of mentors in four Ohio cities in My Brother’s Keeper and seen it begin to change lives," said Brown
Not everyone thinks the program is addressing the real root of the troubled youth problem. It is a public, private partnership, but some take issue with tax dollars going towards something they say can’t succeed.
"It’s not the color of our skin that’s holding us back," said Stacy Washington from Project 21. "It’s choices and behaviors that are being made by people in a certain ethnicity, namely blacks, who are then suffering disproportionately from the results of these decisions."
Washington says fathers should be the President’s target. She thinks traditional family values, like not having kids until marriage, would be a more effective solution.
"If that’s never said to a child, if that’s never impressed upon them, then they’re not going to believe that has any connection to the situation they find themselves in," said Washington.
Johnson and Brown say they expect the program to continue to thrive with the next administration.