All Young People in America Deserve the Opportunity to Succeed

The good news is that the solutions are out there—we just need the will to unify around them and execute.

Yesterday, President Obama announced My Brother’s Keeper, a public-private initiative designed to expand opportunities for boys and men of color. The president’s announcement builds on the growing momentum of countless organizations and leaders around the country who are working tirelessly on behalf of boys and men of color, their families, and their communities.

Undoubtedly, this is a historic milestone. But this watershed moment is more than a celebration. Let it be our rallying cry and a catalyst to redouble our efforts and commitment to guarantee that everyone in our country has the opportunity to succeed—regardless of race or gender.

To do this, we know that the leaders, organizations, and networks fueling this growing movement must have the support, resources, and infrastructure necessary to bring about lasting change. While many leaders have remained committed to this cause over the years, “their organizations and networks have changed their focus, shriveled up, or closed their doors,” as noted in the Urban Institute’s seminal 1995 report, Programs That Serve African American Male Youth.

This report was a major motivation for the Institute for Black Male Achievement (IBMA), which was founded to ensure that this growing field continues to sustain the momentum and improve the lives of black men and boys by providing critical infrastructure and support. This vision will not happen without commitment from leaders from across this country to relentlessly pursue it with unity, drive, and rigor.

The president’s focus on strategies that get proven results is right on target. This is what the Institute for Black Male Achievement is about. In just 15 months, the IBMA network has grown to over 2,000 members representing over 1,400 organizations across the country. Collectively, the network serves over 700,000 people each year and mobilizes over 33 million. This is a network of individuals and organizations dedicated to finding solutions to the systemic challenges facing black men and boys.

The good news is that the solutions are out there—we just need the will to unify around them and execute. IBMA was established to do just that. If we come together around this historic moment, as we are already witnessing, there is no question that we will be able to change the life chances for black males for generations to come.

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I want to tell a story an organization that is fueling this kind momentum, working tirelessly, and with tremendous results in fostering social mobility.
78% of The University of Texas at El Paso’s more than 23,000 students are Mexican-American, and of all Mexican nationals enrolled at U.S. universities, about 9% – more than 1,100 students – attend UTEP. For two years straight Washington Monthly magazine has ranked The University of Texas at El Paso as #1 among U.S. public universities for fostering student social mobility and #7 overall, between Stanford and Harvard, among national research universities. What is remarkable is that more than half the students come from households where the annual income is less than $20,000. Nevertheless, the university is turning out spectacular graduates in science, technology, engineering, math, and liberal arts and conducting cutting-edge research. It is precisely because of a commitment to both access and excellence for young people that so many first generation college students are able to achieve spectacular levels of success. I am African-American and am vastly impressed with the student support and community building efforts and the personal, individualized encouragement that students at UTEP receive. This culture of encouragement, support and excellence is replicable. In terms of solutions being available, and the power of strategies that get proven results, UTEP is a university that has challenged traditional concepts about higher education and is continually demonstrating what a university that serves a 21st century student demographic can achieve. I applaud President Obama's My Brother's Keeper iniative. The opportunities I want for my own sons and daughter are the same opportunities I want to see available to for every child. I gave the example of UTEP so I could provide a concrete model of success. I think the more we share success stories, the more strategies we make available to improve the lives of others.



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