My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) is a non-partisan national call to action and challenge to cities and communities founded in 2014 in support of boys and young men of color. Since inception, the community challenge has been accepted by approximately 300 cities and communities around the nation. We are excited that Tulsa is one of the new partners of the MBK Alliance with this work being led by MBK-Tulsa Director, BerThaddaeus Bailey.
The data is daunting as it relates to boys and young men of color (BYMOC). Across every measurable variable, BYMOC are disproportionately represented, especially as it pertains to poverty, enrollment in and access to quality health care, education, employment and delinquency.
MBK-Tulsa is building a cross-sector coalition from local government, nonprofits, community and religious organizations, youth, to schools, corporations and others to provide a platform to collaboratively and strategically develop and implement a plan of action to disassemble systemic/structural/institutional barriers facing boys and young men of color.
MBK-Tulsa will focus on the following milestones and objectives:
Milestone 1 – Getting a Healthy Start and Entering School Ready to Learn
- Objectives: Eliminate suspensions in early childhood settings and increase access and enrollment in health coverage for children
Milestone 3 – Graduating High School Ready for College or Career
- Objective: Increase access to postsecondary opportunities and experiences, including FAFSA, Oklahoma’s Promise, dual enrollment, internships, and apprenticeship programs
At ImpactTulsa, we believe those closest to the pain should be closest to the power and planning. Therefore, MBK-Tulsa will center community (with an emphasis on youth voices) to make impactful decisions on the execution of the milestones and objectives. Since our launch in November, the MBK-Tulsa team has done the following:
- Center Youth Voice: Met with over 80 Tulsa Public Schools’ youth to learn about their lived experiences
- Strategically Convene Critical Partners: Held local action summit where over 120 community members registered to attend. This meeting highlighted community leaders and members suggestions for systems change work
- Data-Driven Decisions: Conducted a policy scan to identify how best to intervene in the system and select milestones for working groups
- Collaboration: Held initial meetings with community members to discuss areas of alignment and garner support for BYMOC
The long-term goals of MBK-Tulsa are to:
- Accelerate impact by promoting evidence-based approaches and best practices to mentorship and programming,
- Identify local and state policies, practices and procedures that impede the success of BYMOC
- Build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color where they feel valued and have clear paths to opportunity to improve their overall life outcomes,
- Mobilize resources and align them to support evidence-based strategies,
- Scale and replicate evidenced-based interventions.
The data showcases the dire need for interventions in support of BYMOC. In the Tulsa area, BYMOC consistently lag behind their counterparts in key measures such as college completion, discipline, suspensions and expulsions, third grade reading proficiency and eighth grade math. These inequities in education also have economic consequences. The need to act is urgent, as having just 5,000 boys and men of color who are disconnected from opportunities can cost between $256.7 million and $323.8 million yearly and between $4.7 billion and $5 billion over their lifetimes. If Tulsa is to have a thriving city where all youth succeed and contribute to our city’s future, it is incumbent that we take action locally to improve outcomes for boys and men of color.