On Tuesday, October 27, the Greater Austin Area My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (GAA MBK) held it’s first Executive Committee meeting on the UT Austin campus. Community leaders from the city, county, civic organizations, UT Austin, ACC, non-profits, and others joined for a lengthy discussion to determine the direction of the local priorities and establish taskforce committees for GAA MBK. Additionally, the Executive Committee heard from mayor Steve Adler (pictured to the right) and Susan Dawson, President and CEO of the E3 Alliance (pictured below) who provided an assessment of data on local boys and young men of color in the Austin area.
Facts noted by Dawson included the following:
Girls are much more likely than boys to be kindergarten-ready (57% v. 48%).
Hispanic and Black males are 10 times more likely to be retained in the ninth grade; those retained in the ninth grade are 10 times more likely to drop out of school.
Median income for a high school graduate is $19,408; for a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree is $50,744.
White students at eighth grade are four times more likely than Black or Hispanic students to be proficient at eighth-grade algebra.
Mayor Adler told the group, “We all know that the sun rises in the east. The future of Austin rises or falls in our east as well.”
“We have to figure out how we use the strength and resources that exist in this community right now to ensure that there is equal opportunity and access for everybody that lives in this city. We have to do that because our city’s future and spirit and soul of who we are depends upon our ability to do that and do that well,” he said.
At the meeting, Dr. Vincent also announced that the GAA MBK will be convening at the SXSWedu conference for the second year in a row this March. Be on the lookout for more information on the SXSWedu event in the months to come.
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.
A city-wide conversation about President Obama’s initiative, My Brother’s Keeper
One year ago, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper and challenged every city and county to address the significant challenges that young men of color face. Shortly following the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s national initiative, we gathered Austin educators, city government officials, philanthropists, community and non-profit leaders into one room for a dynamic discussion on the lives of our city’s boys and young men of color. This community dialogue, “Austin Aligns for Boys and Young Men of Color: A City-wide Conversation about President Obama’s Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper”, was co-sponsored by Austin Community College, Austin Independent School District, Huston-Tillotson University, KLRU-TV, the Mayor of the City of Austin, and The University of Texas at Austin. At the event, we discussed how Austin is working to address these challenges; to discover what gaps still exist locally; and to explore how our city, community, organizations, and schools can align and leverage resources to serve this population. This was a step in the right direction towards community-wide collaboration and alignment for Austin’s young men, and we will continue to move forward.
Roundtable participants had 35-40 minutes to discuss two common questions (15-20 minutes per question). Scribes at each table culled participants’ ideas into summaries, and highlights from these summaries have been posted below. The table participants discussed these questions from the perspective of their organization, but also from their own personal perspective of what they see and perceive happening in Austin.
Question #1: Austin and My Brother’s Keeper (15-20 minutes)
In September 2014, President Obama issued a challenge to cities, towns, counties and tribes across the country to become “MBK Communities.” The MBK Community Challenge encourages communities (cities, rural municipalities, and tribal nations) to implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of all young people to ensure that they can reach their full potential, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they are born.
The six goals of the My Brother’s Keeper challenge are:
To ensure all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready
To ensure all children read at grade level by 3rd grade
To ensure all youth graduate from high school
To ensure all youth complete post-secondary education or training
To ensure all youth out of school are employed
To ensure all youth remain safe from violent crime
Of these national goals, which of these seem most relevant to Austin? What issues relevant to Austin’s young men of color are missing from this list?
Question #2: Leveraging Austin’s Programs and Resources (15-20 minutes)
What are promising programs and initiatives of your organization (or others) that currently support boys and young men of color in Austin? What other resources can Austin leverage in order to maximize their impact? What gaps still exist for Austin’s boys and young men of color, and how can we address these gaps?