CLEVELAND, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and the White House Chair of the “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force helped launch a local initiative to help prepare students for college and career readiness in Cleveland today. Brown joined Broderick Johnson, Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, Rev. Todd Davidson of Antioch Baptist Church, community leaders, and a group of Cleveland-area mentors and mentees during a community kick-off event at Patrick Henry School.

“It’s up to all of us to ensure that all our children – regardless of their zip code or the color of their skin – have the opportunity to succeed,” Brown said. “And I hope more cities across our state follow Cleveland’s lead and accept the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge, and work toward that goal.”

“My Brother’s Keeper is a grand challenge to each of us that is rooted in the understanding that it takes an entire village to nurture one child,” said Rev. Davidson. “Young black males deserve every opportunity to be leaders in a global society and this initiative proposes to help them access all of the tools necessary to achieve their grandest potential.”

“Connecting students with mentors, especially in the pivotal sixth and ninth grades, will provide needed support for a city-wide attendance initiative already underway,” said Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon. “Reducing chronic absenteeism is critical for keeping students on track to graduation.”

The My Brother’s Keeper initiative works to connect male students of color with community leaders through mentoring relationships and educational events. This program is aligned with the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and its goal to ensure that all youth receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.

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 the President’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.

Immediately before the launch event, Brown and Johnson convened a roundtable of community leaders to discuss efforts to build and expand the mentoring program in Cuyahoga County. Individuals from the following organizations attended the meeting:

  • Antioch Baptist Church
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Black Law Student Association/Cleveland State University
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • City of Warrensville Heights
  • Cleveland City Council
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
  • Congresswoman Marcia Fudge’s office
  • Cuyahoga County Council
  • Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative
  • Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Peace in the Hood
  • Rust United Methodist Church
  • The Cleveland Foundation
  • United States District Court of Northern Ohio
  • Urban League of Greater Cleveland

Individuals who are interested in participating in the Cleveland My Brother’s Keeper effort should contact Big Brothers Big Sisters at 216-452-5222.