My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and Task Force Report

My Brother’s Keeper initiative has the goal of addressing the persistent opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color with the hopes of helping all children reach their full potential.  (Scroll to the bottom for specifics about Indiana initiatives and commentary.)

The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force was established to:

  • “Assess and suggest improvements to Federal policies, regulations, and programs that apply to boys and young men of color.
  • Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color, while promoting incentives for private and public entities to develop and adopt strategies that have been proven to be effective.
  • Develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.
  • Recommend to the President means for ensuring this effort is sustained for years to come within government and across public and private sectors.”

The task force members are listed here.

On May 28, 2014, the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force issued their first ninety-day report after reviewing data, programs, and policies, as well as meeting with community members about work already being done.   There were six identified milestones that influence success and access to opportunity that must be the focus of future efforts by “doing what works and removing or avoiding roadblocks that hinder progress,” which include:

  1. “Entering school ready to learn
  2. Reading at grade level by third grade
  3. Graduating from high school ready for college and career
  4. Completing postsecondary education or training
  5. Successfully entering the workforce
  6. Reducing violence and providing a second chance”

Within the report, Recommendation 11.3 is particularly relevant to those in juvenile justice:

“Reform the juvenile and criminal justice systems to reduce unnecessary interactions for youth and enforce the rights of incarcerated youth to a quality education.

  • 11.3.1 The Departments of Justice and Education should continue to address inappropriate referrals to the juvenile and criminal justice system by enforcing Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in the administration of juvenile justice and by continuing to support and work with juvenile court judges and juvenile defenders to ensure rights are protected throughout.
  • 11.3.2 Federal state and local law enforcement officials should increase the availability of diversion programs to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system; increasing availability and use of alternatives to incarceration, especially for status and misdemeanor offenses; enhancing educational and training programming for juveniles in secure placement; finding ways to ensure youth have effective assistance of counsel in proceedings; enabling youth to re-enroll in school after confinement; reducing unnecessary criminal referrals and suspensions and expulsions; and addressing Disproportionate Minority Contact should be a priority of Federal, state and local officials.
  • 11.3.3 Law enforcement and corrections officers and leadership should be educated and trained on the effects of mental health on behavior. Promoting evidence based strategies in this area will also help keep youth out of the system.”

Some progress is already being made here in Indiana:

  • In 2013, Merrillville High School in Merrillville, Indiana received a COSEBOC (Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color) School Award.  For information on their challenges and success, see this summary.
  • Richmond, Indiana has been operating a summer Third Grade Reading Academy to assist students to be at the third grade reading level before advancing in elementary school.  This summer there will be two additional pilot programs for second graders and students for whom English is a second language.  See this article for details.
  • As noted in prior posts, Strategies for Youth has come to Indiana to train police officers in Marion and Lafayette County on different ways of working with youth who come in contact with law enforcement.
  • The Indiana Black Expo, Inc. 44th Annual Summer Celebration, to be held July 10-20, 2014, will include such topics as “Leading Troubled Boys Effectively.”

Also listen to Karen Freeman-Wilson (current mayor of Gary, Indiana and former Indiana Attorney General) and Andrew Wolk (from Root Cause in Boston, Massachusetts) who spoke about the My Brother’s Keeper initiative on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook on March 5, 2014 and whether the initiative could work in a place like Gary, Indiana.

The post My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and Task Force Report was first published on the Indiana Juvenile Justice blog.

This entry was posted in Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), Education, Racial Disparity, Right to Counsel, School-to-Prison Pipeline, Schools/Education and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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