An Initiative to Advance Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color: Philanthropic Statement of Support
As leaders of American philanthropic institutions, we believe that to bring out the best in America requires that we work together to bring out the best in our young people. We know that they are most likely to succeed and thrive when they have strong families, good schools, safe homes, supportive communities, and opportunities for productive, rewarding jobs.
Yet, the evidence is clear: there are persistent hurdles that stand in the way of too many boys and young men of color – making it difficult for them to stay on track and reach their full potential. They are more likely to witness and be victims of violence. They are more likely to attend schools that lack the basic resources needed to succeed. They typically have too few positive influences and role models. As a result, too many of our sons and brothers are not graduating from high school, have difficulty gaining traction in the labor market, and live shorter, less healthy lives. Our country cannot afford for them to fail.
Investing in Our Young People and In Our Nation
It is in the nation’s best interest to remove the hurdles that prevent so many of our promising young people from becoming productive members of society. Investing in pathways to opportunity and success for our young sons and brothers, who represent America’s future leaders, will benefit our communities and the nation as a whole. Recognizing young people as one of our nation’s greatest assets and the best indicator of our future prosperity and health, some of the nation’s leading foundations have for years invested in initiatives aimed at improving the health, education, and economic outcomes of these boys and young men of color.
The Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color is a unified effort to explore promising strategies, support research to inform effective action, leverage existing investments, and affirm the value of our young people. Formed by twenty-eight foundation executives during a meeting of the Council on Foundations last April, additional funders have since joined this alliance and the list continues to grow. The Alliance encourages other foundations and corporations to make additional investments to ensure ample resources are available and to expand the community of leaders taking action on this important issue.
Our ten foundations, many of which are members of the Executives’ Alliance, collectively have already approved or awarded $150 million to find and rapidly spread evidence-based solutions that have the highest potential to positively impact our young people. Moving forward, we seek to invest at least an additional $200 million, alongside investments from our peers in philanthropy and the business community.
Shared Values and Commitment–Philanthropy & The White House
At the same time, President Obama has championed a “Ladders of Opportunity” Agenda that includes a number of strategic efforts to increase opportunities for young people ages 16-24 who are falling behind. He has called for more significant, strategic action and signaled a desire to work with philanthropy and others in the private sector to respond accordingly. The philanthropic community’s demonstrated commitment to advance opportunity for boys and young men of color, coupled with President Obama’s call to action, presents a critical opportunity for a national call to action to support our young people.
A New Initiative
We welcome the White House effort to launch a non-partisan, public-private initiative to provide leadership, coordination, and expertise to improve life outcomes and expand opportunities for boys and young men of color to reach their full potential in school, work and life.
Through greater investment, this new effort will research critical intervention points in the lives of boys and young men of color including: early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, third grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system, ladders to jobs and economic opportunity, and healthy families and communities. The initiative will also endeavor to change the often-damaging narrative about boys and young men of color, and to promote effective public policy solutions.
We have committed funding to support the preliminary work and establish the infrastructure necessary to make this initiative a success. Over the next 90 days, with input and help from our peers in the business, non-profit, faith, and government sectors, an assessment will be completed to help determine which approaches, public policies, and promising practices have the biggest potential to build the supportive communities and environments needed for our young men to thrive. We will explore how to maximize and leverage existing activities already underway to support boys and young men of color, and identify opportunities for new contributions from philanthropy, corporations, non-profit institutions, and community members.
This will help lay the groundwork for a longer term effort that engages and involves a broad range of public and private sector stakeholders including the business community, non-profit organizations, faith leaders, community partners, state and local governments, and other funders, that can make valuable contributions to support boys and young men of color.
Building a Stronger America
Boys and young men of color are our sons, brothers, and neighbors. They are future fathers, leaders, and members of the workforce – from the air traffic controllers who will keep us safe when traveling, to the doctors and nurses who will heal us. Millions are thriving students, entrepreneurs, and public servants making a unique contribution to their communities and families. But far too many are struggling to navigate broken systems and structures that have failed them and failed our country. Now is the time for us to take serious action to ensure our kids have the hope and opportunity they deserve and our country has the talent and leadership it needs. Given the opportunity, they can and will play a powerful role in building a stronger America.
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation
- The Atlantic Philanthropies
- Bloomberg Philanthropies
- The California Endowment
- The Ford Foundation
- The John and James L. Knight Foundation
- The Open Society Foundations
- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
- The Kapor Center for Social Impact
Boston Foundation, California Community Foundation, Casey Family Programs, Community Foundation of South Alabama, Denver Foundation, Foundation for the Mid South, Headwaters Foundation for Justice, The Kresge Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, Living Cities, Lumina Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Rosenberg Foundation, Schott Foundation for Public Education, Sierra Health Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Southern Education Foundation, Tides Foundation, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation