The Difference
6:00 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Obama Launches Initiative To Provide Opportunities For Young Men of Color

President Obama announcing "My Brother's Keeper" at the White House.

President Obama Thursday announced a new initiative to provide opportunities for young men of color who are underachieving compared to their peers.

Obama is calling for collaboration from foundations, corporations, and community leaders to address the nationwide gap.

Hear Virginia Alvino's story about a new White House initiative to provide opportunities for men and boys of color.

The “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is aimed at helping black and latino boys stay in school and out of the criminal justice system - and to improve their access to higher education.

In an announcement Thursday, President Obama said that the nation has gotten used to the shocking statistics.

“We just assume this is an inevitable part of American life, " Obama said, "instead of the outrage that it is.”

In Indiana the numbers are just as jarring – from income to unemployment, local men and boys of color are largely worse off.

Statewide there’s a 30 percent gap in graduation rates for black and white boys, and black youth are disproportionately incarcerated.  

Thomas Smith of the Smith Academy for Excellence in Fort Wayne says this problem doesn’t have any easy answers, but that now is the time to take real action.

Thomas Smith, principal of The Smith Academy For Excellence.
Credit Virginia Alvino / WBOI News

“This particular issue is not going to go away with just shining a light on it," Smith says. "You’re going to have to really dig in get your hands in and work at it.”

Smith still praises the president for bringing national attention to the wide disparity in achievement.  

But he adds, it’ll take commitment from people at all levels to start to create an even playing field.