SPRINGFIELD, OH – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped launch the “My Brother’s Keeper” program in Springfield. The local initiative helps prepare students for college and career readiness. Brown joined community leaders and a group of Springfield-area mentors and mentees during the launch at the Greater Springfield CareerConnectED.
“Ohio is losing future doctors, engineers, teachers, and entrepreneurs because of an opportunity gap,” said Brown. “My Brother’s Keeper is about building strong children, who will grow into the leaders of the future, and who won’t be bound by a society that has too often been set up to hold them back.”
The local My Brother’s Keeper coalition will work to connect male students of color with community leaders through mentoring relationships and educational events. This program is aligned with President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper national initiative with the goal of ensuring that all youth receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.
During the kick-off event today, Brown was joined by Sawyer Schneider, a Springfield-area mentor, and his mentee Lorence McNeal.
“Being a mentor is above all the best job I’ve had. It’s an excellent way to give back to my community by reinforcing teen passion with tangible knowledge. Mentoring has also provided the opportunity to work within my field and expand my comprehension of music. Confucius said it best: ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,’” said Schneider.
Brown was also joined by Assistant Mayor Joyce Chilton and Springfield City School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Hill.
“Mentoring is important for the young boys/students of color in Springfield, not only because of the knowledge and personal skills a mentor will offer, but because mentoring provides a whole new world for the mentee,” said Assistant Mayor Chilton.
“In our ever-changing world, mentoring can have an extremely positive effect on our students. It is our responsibility as adults to remove barriers that hinder students’ success by creating strong relationships with mentors who support and guide our youth. I’ve personally witnessed that mentors who connect with youth at school and in after-school spaces positively change lives,” said Dr. Hill.
In September 2014, President Obama issued a challenge to cities across the country to become “MBK Communities.” This challenge represents a call to action and encourages communities to implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of all young people to ensure that they can reach their full potential, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they are born. Nearly 200 mayors, tribal leaders, and county executives across 43 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the MBK Community Challenge.
The six goals of the Challenge are:
- Ensuring all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally ready;
- Ensuring all children read at grade level by 3rd grade;
- Ensuring all youth graduate from high school;
- Ensuring all youth complete post-secondary education or training;
- Ensuring all youth out of school are employed; and
- Ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime.
Community leaders can lay the groundwork for an MBK Community in four steps:
1. Accept President Obama’s Challenge.
2. Convene a “Local Action Summit” to build an MBK Community.
3. Conduct a policy review and form recommendations for action.
4. Launch a plan of action, next steps, and a timetable for review.
Before today’s launch event, Brown convened a roundtable of mentors and mentees to discuss efforts to build and expand the mentoring program in Springfield.
Brown has been a champion of the My Brother’s Keeper program in Ohio, leading efforts to launch local My Brother’s Keeper initiatives in Toledo, Mansfield, Lorain County, the Mahoning Valley, and Stark County. He has also highlighted programs in Dayton, Columbus, Akron, and Cleveland with Broderick Johnson, President Obama’s Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.