WASHINGTON — Continuing his push to use executive powers as a way of advancing his agenda, President Barack Obama will announce Thursday a new effort to help improve the lives of young African-American males.
A White House official said the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative would partner government with businesses to “make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential.”
Young African-American men are unemployed at a higher rate than the population at large, and are more likely than peers of other races to be incarcerated. Obama said during last month’s State of the Union address he was working with public and private partners to “help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.”
The plan, which the White House official said was “focused on implementing strategies that are proven to get results,” will convene business and foundation leaders to test strategies in various cities around the country designed to intervene at key moments in young men’s lives, including at school and in interactions with law enforcement.
Obama will also ask the federal government to assess what current plans are working and which are not effective in helping young men advance, which the goal of establishing consistent practices across agencies.
The event Thursday “has been months in the making,” the official said, adding the White House reached out to officials from both parties as well as faith and business leaders.
Among the young men invited are participants in the “Becoming a Man” group, a Chicago collective that Obama visited last year.
The President and first lady have spoken frequently recently on the plight of young African-American men, most recently in an interview with The New Yorker, where Obama highlighted the disproportionate number of minority men who are incarcerated for using marijuana.
“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”
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