Speaking from Lehman College in New York City, President Barack Obama yesterday announced the creation of a nonprofit called the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. The organization is a spinoff of a White House initiative aimed at uplifting black and Hispanic boys from preschool through high school.
The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will “continue the work of opening doors for young people — all our young people — long after I’ve left office,” said Obama.
Obama told the audience at Lehman that the new organization has secured $80 million from companies such as Deloitte, News Corp and American Express. The group’s star-studded executive team and advisor board will include former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), basketball stars Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal, and former Attorney General Eric Holder, among others.
The new organization will be led by former Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria and might serve as a vehicle through which the president can influence policy after his second term is up. “While I’m not in a position to describe the specific, detailed relationship between the president and this alliance that will continue after his presidency, I can tell you that this is an issue that the president intends to continue to be focused on long after he has left the Oval Office,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
Broderick Johnson, chair of the White House initiative, linked the My Brother’s Keeper with the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. “For so many of us, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative is deeply personal. As a proud son of Baltimore, this week’s announcement comes at a time of unique and special resonance for me,” wrote Johnson on the initiative’s website. “As the country reflects on our shared responsibility to ensure that opportunity reaches every young person, I urge everyone to look at their own capacity to make a difference.”
Earnest said the president won’t be “involved in the day-to-day activities of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. This is a private sector initiative that’s being organized and run by important leaders in the business community.” That includes fundraising policies and donation allocations. “(T)he Obama administration will have no role in deciding how donations are screened and what criteria they’ll set at the alliance for donor policies because it’s an entirely separate entity,” Earnest said.
The My Brother’s Keeper initiative was designed to focus federal resources towards closing the opportunity gap experienced by black and Latino males. To that end, Johnson identified nearly $1 billion in funds from a number of federal agencies. The departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced $750 million in Preschool Development Grants for 18 states this past December, and the Department of Labor and the National Guard have programs that will together put $100 million on the table to improve career prospects for minorities.