From the Margins to the Spotlight: Shifting Our National Focus to Young Men of Color

Published jul. 22, 2014

America’s leaders are intensifying efforts to confront the persistent academic and societal disparities among black and Latino males and other young men of color. President Barack Obama’s transformative and morally just initiative My Brother’s Keeper has gathered leaders from the public and private sectors to build on proven solutions that address problems such as poverty, failing schools, and lack of career options that disproportionately affect millions of boys and young men of color. We at JFF commend the President and his partners for shining a light on this population and looking for ways to help move these young men out from the margins of our communities. The efforts challenge the silently accepted paradigm of failure that has chronically plagued these historically marginalized groups. We stand in solidarity with the President’s goal of advancing education, opportunity, and success for young men of color, as well as for all underserved populations.

For over 30 years, we have been working to ensure that all Americans, especially those underserved by current systems, have the education, skills, and credentials needed to succeed in our economy. Programs like Early College Designs, Accelerating Opportunity, and GreenWays are a few key JFF initiatives that have proven results in creating pathways to economic opportunity for all young people who are struggling to progress, including young men of color. 

We recognize that, while many people face barriers to advancement in our society, young men and boys of color consistently face more—and more harmful—challenges. Achieving the goals of My Brother’s Keeper, which align with JFF’s longstanding mission, is crucial not only to foster individual success, but also to promote economic growth. We believe that our strength as a nation will be defined by the opportunities we provide our youth and their resulting ability to achieve their full potential.

The President’s commitment to eradicating gaps in achievement and job readiness is no new idea. However, his powerfully connected voice can create a symphony of like-minded champions to collectively leverage school systems, institutions of higher education, foundations, community-based organizations, and industry leaders to create paths to prosperity for these men. At JFF, we are proud to contribute our work in expanding opportunity, and, moving forward, we reaffirm our commitment to improving outcomes for young men of color and all young Americans.

Read more about JFF’s work in relation to My Brother’s Keeper.