President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in February 2014 to ensure that all youth, including boys and young men of color, have the opportunity to improve their life outcomes and overcome barriers to success. In September 2014, the City of Flint was one of the first communities to accept the White House My Brother’s Keeper Challenge: a call to action for community members and leaders to coordinate their efforts, identify effective strategies, and work together towards the shared goal of improving life outcomes for young people.
This goal of providing opportunities for all young people, regardless of race, or income, or where they live, was at the core of the Imagine Flint Master Plan. The community embraced social equity and youth development as guiding principles. MBK provides a great opportunity to take these principles and put them into action. The City of Flint is committed to the following goals suggested by the White House:
On November 12, 2014, Flint held a Local Action Summit hosted by the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation. Over 100 people came out to discuss the challenges facing Flint’s youth and to seek solutions. Over the following months, several other community meetings took place. Youth from the Civic Park neighborhood gathered at Joy Tabernacle with faith leaders and City staff. Students at Mott Middle College and Hamady Middle/High School organized their own forum to discuss MBK. Students and staff from UM-Flint and Mott Community College both organized forums and working groups to discuss the challenges facing boys and young men of color, particularly in accessing higher education.
The City also convened a working group of community leaders, who worked together to develop a comprehensive report which is being released today: Youth Are Our Priority; Supporting Boys and Young Men of Color in Flint (LINKED BELOW). This report demonstrates the substantial challenges faced by boys and young men of color in Flint, but it also maps out important assets already in place – such as the Flint and Genesee Literacy Network, and the Flint Community Schools community education pilot. This report is meant to serve as a resource for the many groups already working to support Flint’s youth, and it also provides a road map for what more we can all do going forward.
The City has already committed to using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars to support the Literacy Network, improvements to Berston Fieldhouse and Haskell Center, and for an enhanced mentoring initiative in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters. These investments will all address key community needs highlighted in the MBK process: the need to improve youth and family literacy, to provide safe places for youth to play outside of school, and to provide youth with mentors and coaches to help them grow and learn.
On May 13th, at 5 PM at the Mott Community College Regional Technology Center auditorium, City leaders will be joined by community leaders to discuss what’s next for MBK in Flint. All members of the community are encouraged to join, because all of us have a role to play – to be a mentor or a role model, to give a young person a first job or a second chance, and to be their brother’s keeper.