Obama Names Leader for “My Brother’s Keeper”

The White House has announced that Michael Smith will lead the “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative, which is focused on leveraging private funding commitments on improving the outcomes for boys and young men of color.

Smith has been the director of another federal program, The Social Innovation Fund, which falls under the umbrella of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Prior to joining the Obama Administration Mr. Smith served as senior vice president of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation.

The Social Innovation Fund combines federal and private investment to help replicate evidence-based solutions to complex social challenges in underserved communities nationwide. The Fund relies heavily upon non-federal match commitments, securing more than $400 private dollars to date.

The “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative was announced last February by President Obama. The program is intended to be a partnership between government, private business and the philanthropic community. To date, the initiative has attracted $300 million in private investments. Initial support for the program included the support of 11 leading foundations; that number is now closer to 40.

Last week, President Obama announced the launch of the “My Brother’s Keeper” Community Challenge at the Congressional Black Caucus Awards Dinner. The program will encourage communities (cities, counties, suburbs, rural municipalities, and tribal nations) to implement comprehensive cradle-to-college-and-career strategies aimed at improving life outcomes for all young people.

The community challenge is a call to action intended to implement the findings from the White House’s MBK May 2014 task force report. After accepting the challenge, communities are expected to lay out a plan within six months addressing how to track data and outcomes, and a blueprint for implementation of proposed services.

Although the Community Challenge does not include any federal dollars for implementation, participation in the program could help municipalities get priority down the road.

Judith Fenlon is the money and business editor for The Imprint.

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