May 4, 2015

Shaun Harper, Michael Nutter, and John Legend named to My Brother's Keeper Alliance

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Today, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the launch of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (“MBK Alliance”), which aims to make the American Dream available to all boys and young men of color by eliminating gaps in their opportunities and outcomes. Penn GSE Professor Shaun R. Harper has been appointed to the MBK Alliance Advisory Council, along with Penn alumnus Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Penn alumnus John Legend has been named Honorary Chairman of the Alliance.

In February 2014, the White House launched My Brother’s Keeper to engage partners and stakeholders in that effort from both the private and public sectors. MBK Alliance is an independent, nonprofit organization created to advance progress in the private sector, and catalyze a national ecosystem of support to help boys and young men of color recognize their full potential through strategic evidence-based interventions.

"By almost every measure, the life chances of the average young man of color is worse than his peers. Those opportunity gaps begin early, often at birth, and they compound over time, becoming harder and harder to bridge, making too many young men and women feel like no matter how hard they try, they may never achieve their dreams,” President Obama said at a press event held earlier today in New York City.

The president told young men in the audience, "There’s nothing, not a single thing, that’s more important to the future of America than whether or not you and young people all across this country can achieve their dreams."

The 33-member council to which Harper has been appointed also includes former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, and retired NBA player Shaquille O’Neal.

“I am excited to join President Obama and leaders from the government, philanthropic, corporate, and entertainment sectors to help advance efforts that will improve the lives, experiences, and outcomes of boys and men of color across our nation,” Harper commented.

MBK Alliance will focus on six critical milestones in the lifecycle, inspired by the milestones in the MBK Initiative Taskforce Report to President Obama:

  1. Entering School Ready to Learn (Early Childhood)
  2. Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade (Middle Childhood)
  3. Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career (Adolescence)
  4. Completing Postsecondary Education or Training (Adulthood Transition)
  5. Successfully Entering the Workforce (Adulthood)
  6. Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance (Throughout Life)

“I believe these are the right milestones,” Harper added. “In each area, addressing the devastating effects of racism and removing structural barriers to opportunities and success is absolutely essential. I hope my involvement in the MBK Alliance will help elevate these and other important issues.”

Harper is the founding director of Penn GSE’s Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education. He has dedicated his career to studying the patterns that have allowed disadvantaged Black and Latino males to succeed, and searching for ways to expand those pathways to success. He is also co-directing the new RISE for Boys and Men of Color initiative.

MBK Alliance is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Together with the Board of Directors, Corporate Champions and social sector partners, MBK Alliance has received more than $80 million of support to date.