Austin Mayor Steve Adler has announced the formation of a task force for the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Austin initiative. The task force will be co-chaired by Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, and Mark Madrid, CEO for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. On hand for the announcement held Aug. 17 at Austin Community College were Dr. Richard Rhodes, Austin Community College president; Travis County judge Sara Eckhardt; Dr. Paul Cruz, AISD superintendent and about 50 others from nonprofit organizations, AISD, ACC, UT Austin; Huston-Tillotson University, the City of Austin and Travis County offices as well as community members.
MBK Austin was launched at SXSWedu last spring. Since then, numerous school districts, organizations and agencies have signed on to become part of the initiative which will focus on educational opportunities and ending the school-to-prison pipeline for young men of color in Austin and Travis County. All of those who spoke that morning talked about the great opportunity to help youth and young men of color succeed on all levels. “I believe that the stars are aligning for a conversation about opportunity that we haven’t seen in a long time and its long overdue,” said Eckerhardt.
Vincent said, “What’s so exciting about MBK Austin as Mayor Adler said, we can take challenges – and we do have challenges in our communities–and turn those into strengths and opportunities. With our collective efforts, we have the opportunity to make sure all of our young people thrive.” Vincent also said the task force would be held accountable and is planning another SXSWedu event to report back on progress. “We can say that as a community, we did not just talk about this effort but actually executed initiatives and best practices to make sure that we’re making a tangible, positive impact on the lives of our young people,” he said.
Madrid called the announcement “a signature moment for Austin and Travis County.” He said, “We put aside self-interest for shared interest… Our youth and our young men of color represent the minds of tomorrow and we must take the responsibility to provide them a compass , a guide post and an enduring example.” As the cultivation of our youth and our young men of color go, that is how our Austin, Travis county state of Texas and American economy will go.