Improving Outcomes for Boys and Men of Color: New National Collaborative Aims to Identify and Share Best Practices and Fund Cross-Cutting Academic and Community-Based Research

Thursday, February 19, 2015

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Philadelphia, PA – A new multifaceted effort, RISE (Research, Integration, Strategy and Evaluation) for Boys and Men of Color, has launched to identify and better understand the strategies that will ultimately improve life outcomes for boys and men of color in four key areas: education, health, criminal justice, and economic opportunity and workforce development. The work will identify best practices and opportunities for new research that can inform equitable policies, and ultimately create positive change in communities across the United States.

Efforts to address the harsh realities that so many boys and men of color face are not new. Yet, with nearly every major indicator of economic, social and physical well-being demonstrating that boys and men of color do not have access to the structural supports and opportunities needed to thrive, the work remains timely and essential.

RISE is supported by members of the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color, a national philanthropic network committed to evaluating promising approaches, advocating for effective public policy and systems change, and investing in young men of color. The Atlantic Philanthropies, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Annie E. Casey Foundation have agreed to invest $8.5 million into this $10 million three-year collaborative. RISE will be co-directed by Shaun Harper of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) and Sharon Norris-Shelton of Equal Measure (formerly the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning), which will also convene this national initiative.

“This collaborative project affords us a powerful opportunity to more effectively leverage our collective expertise to improve policies, practices and conditions for boys and men of color,” Harper said. Harper is also the founding executive director of Penn GSE’s Center for Race & Equity in Education, which has contributed richly to the policy and practices serving boys and men of color.

RISE’s key areas of activity include:

  • More effectively networking and convening researchers, evaluators, practitioners and community activists to share knowledge.
  • Funding/sponsoring new research and evaluation projects that identify solutions to challenges faced by communities of color, especially boys and men of color.
  • Building an easily accessible web-based portal to house research, tools and reports that support ongoing cross-sector dialogue and establish a virtual community of practice.
  • Expanding the reach and dissemination of knowledge, best practices and policy recommendations that result from the effort with the field of researchers, policymakers, practitioners and community stakeholders in an effort to shift the delivery of supports to boys and men of color.

Said Sharon Norris-Shelton, Equal Measure senior director and RISE co-director, “Developing an interdisciplinary network of scholars, evaluators, practitioners and policy shapers is critical to the effort’s success. This professional network will establish a joint agenda for research, evaluation, effective practice and policy advocacy, and will be poised to make a significant difference in improving the lives of boys and men of color.” Equal Measure is a national evaluation and philanthropic services firm that has been working to advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout its 30 years of influence in the social sector.

“This is a bold effort to address racial disparities in a coordinated, strategic way,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, president and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies, which has invested over $350 million over the past decade to promote racial equity and improve pathways to opportunity for vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the United States. “By using evidence and evaluation to inform actionable policy, RISE will help to dismantle the unfair obstacles to opportunity and equality that disproportionately impact not only young men of color, but entire communities.” 

“Efforts like RISE are essential in helping this nation address the burdens of inequity that so many children and families of color face. And, no demographic bears those burdens more intensely than boys and men of color,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We believe that what is learned through these research efforts can ultimately be used to help change hearts and minds, inform policy decision-making at all levels and address the structural inequities that limit opportunities for young men of color.”

RISE is identifying additional lead partners who will play critical roles in advancing the overall mission and objectives of the collaboration. This group will represent several professional sectors, serve as a voice for various racial/ethnic populations and play a strategic role in the collaborative.

“A multifaceted approach is necessary to close the research gap that exists in our knowledge base about strategies to improve life outcomes,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “While we identify and catalogue strategies that are working in disparate communities across America to build on the strengths and talents that young boys and men of color possess, RISE also will enable stakeholders to scale up practices that have demonstrated proven results.”


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About Penn GSE
Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit

About Equal Measure
Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, Equal Measure works with major private and community foundations, national and regional nonprofits and government organizations to elevate insights that help shape powerful investments and fuel sustainable social change. Equal Measure has extensive expertise in supporting philanthropic services, particularly in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. As a result, it brings deep knowledge in evaluation methods, and in philanthropic program management, grantmaking, planning and convening learning communities. For further information about Equal Measure, please visit

About the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color

The Executives’ Alliance is a network of more than 40 national, regional, and community foundations driven by a bold vision that all boys and men of color will enjoy full opportunity and inclusion in all the opportunities America has to offer.  Through strategic use of collective action and investments, and by elevating the collective voice of philanthropic leaders, the Alliance seeks to remove social and systemic barriers and increase economic, educational, civic and health opportunities that strengthen individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole.  For more information about the Executives’ Alliance, please visit

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