On September 7, representatives from Detroit, Philadelphia, and Little Rock met at the new Tendaji Youth Center on the campus of St. Mark Baptist Church to share and learn about My Brother’s Keeper initiatives in urban areas across the United States. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is an initiative of President Obama to engage successful public and private policy programs aimed at lifting up boys and men of color. The local meeting was sponsored by the Boys & Men Opportunity Success Team (BMOST) Coalition, whose goal is to unite boys and men of color with meaningful adult relationships, mentoring and tutoring, positive role models, and service to the community.
City of Little Rock Mayor, Mark Stodola, participated in the panel with an aim toward developing public policies conducive to lifting up males of color, establishing vision and strategy for addressing this issue, and scaling programs up to meet the needs of this population. LRWDB Executive Director, W. J. Monagle, and YouthBuild Program Director, Melissa Mitchell, were in attendance to discuss the Little Rock YouthBuild program, which aligns with the My Brother’s Keeper job-driven training agenda. YouthBuild provides a “stepping stone” approach, promoting a seamless progression from education to work-based training and good paying jobs for young adults. The community-based nature of YouthBuild grants ensures that services are provided where they are needed most and are intended to reach the hardest to serve youth.