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Prominent civic organizations in Detroit accept Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Challenge"

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Paul Engstrom/Skillman Foundation
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About 50 civic leaders met today in Detroit to develop a plan to improve life outcomes for young men of color.

The group is taking up the challenge of President Barack Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Initiative," launched early this year to address the growing disparities faced by African American and Latino boys and young men. The group is working to come up with a report and a set of recommendations in 120 days.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his priority for 2015 is to create opportunities for Detroit youth.

"How do we allow our children to grow up in safe neighborhoods? How do we give them good choices at schools," Duggan asked."How do we give them outlets to develop their talents? How do we start them on summer job programs?"

Duggan said Detroit's success is directly tied to its young people. "We're going to turn Detroit around by embracing and developing the talent we already have here."

The Skillman Foundation has committed $2 million in grants to support the My Brother's Keeper work in Detroit.

Tonya Allen, president of the Skillman Foundation, said their efforts are aimed at educational preparation, mentoring, career training, and employment opportunities, and reducing violence involving young men both as victims and perpetrators.

"We're really focusing on trying to give alternatives for these young people so they can see a path forward about their future," Allen said.

Data shared at today's meeting included:

  • Roughly 54% of African American and Hispanic males under 24 live in poverty in Detroit.
  • The estimated number of third-grade males proficient in reading on the fall 2013 MEAP was 28% for Hispanic males and 33% for African American males.
  •  The Detroit-wide graduation rate in 2013 was 62% for African American males and 55% for Hispanic males.

–Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom