My Brother’s Keeper gets local launch

In September of last year, President Obama issued a challenge to America: to develop strategies so that our youth may better realize their potential, no matter who or where they are in the United States. At a joint event on May 19 at the University of Minnesota, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul publicly took the president up on his challenge, called the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative.

Mayor Betsy Hodges, right, with an unidentified participant in the U of M event
Mayor Betsy Hodges, right, with an unidentified participant in the U of M event

Jane Eastwood, speaking on behalf of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, said that both Coleman and Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges actually accepted the President’s challenge in September of last year and have been working on MBK since. “The event on May 19 at the University of Minnesota was the release of the action plan, which is the fourth step,” Eastwood explained.

The four steps in the President’s initiative are

  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.

Similarly, Hodges’ spokesperson Alexandra Fetissoff told us, “We are currently in step four of the process. We’ve launched the action plan and are now moving into the system change work.”

In February of last year, President Obama said of the MBK initiative: “…That’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about, helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works, when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.”

The six goals of MBK listed on the website are:

  • Ensuring all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready.
  • Ensuring all children read at grade level by third 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.
  • Ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime.

Asked which organizations and individuals have partnered with the mayors, Eastwood said, “This initiative is about all organizations and systems like cities and school districts implementing the principles of the My Brother’s Keeper plan, and not about selecting specific programs with which to work.”

She further explained, “For example, youth-serving City departments will be looking at how to incorporate principles like bringing youth or organizations that support them into planning and decision-making or doing more to lift up culturally specific practices.

“The mayors have asked funders, school districts, and groups like Generation Next to also adopt these principles. Moving forward, Mayor Coleman’s office will continue to coordinate My Brother’s Keeper with Mayor Hodges’ office as well as with the Minnesota Council on Foundations and others.”

Fetissoff referred us to a report on the website below, saying, “In the report you will also find a detailed timeline and (non-exhaustive) list of participants,” and adding, “All community agencies, community organizations and community members are welcome to be a part of this important work.”

Additionally, Fetissoff told us, “A good resource that will keep you up to date on the initiative’s movements is the Mayor’s website (see below), where she has a specific MBK section. “The My Brother’s Keeper initiative is one of Mayor Hodges’ top priorities.”


Full MBK report available here or more info, visit Mayor Hodges’ website.

Isaac Peterson welcomes reader responses to