This report by the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) draws attention to the prominent roles municipal leaders can play in a growing national movement to improve outcomes for black males, who continue to face some of the largest disadvantages of any demographic group in America. Numerous studies show that black males suffer disproportionately from poverty, family instability, failure in school, unemployment, incarceration and homicide.
Reflecting a growing awareness and sense of urgency, major foundations, policymakers, business leaders, researchers and nonprofit organizations have recently come together to initiate a national dialogue on these challenges. In 2008, the Open Society Foundations launched the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, which aims to create hope and opportunity for black men and boys who are marginalized from economic, social, educational and political life in the United States.
The guide presents a wide range of action steps that city leaders can take to reduce racial and gender inequalities in three areas: strengthening families, improving educational achievement and expanding access to family-supporting employment opportunities. These steps are likely to have the greatest impact when pursued as part of a larger, data-driven strategy defined by measurable goals, a clear target population and mechanisms to share accountability among stakeholders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The guide's recommendations draw from the experience of municipal leaders who have made black male achievement a top priority for their cities.