In a Feb. 27, 2014 speech, President Barack Obama called on parents, community groups, foundations, businesses, tech leaders, the faith community and others across the nation to participate in a focused effort to address persistent issues affecting young men of color in America. The City of East Palo Alto is one body that has answered that call.
In October, the East Palo Alto City Council voted unanimously to accept President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge," an initiative he announced that day in 2014. My Brother's Keeper aims to connect boys and young men of color to mentors, support networks and pathways to higher education and jobs. The initiative does not provide new funding to communities or groups, but rather challenges them to make more effective use of existing resources.
The East Palo Alto City Council also voted to expand the initiative to include girls and young women of color. The city has also partnered with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to move the local effort forward.
This Friday, April 8, the city will be hosting a public summit to develop a data- and evidence-based Local Action Plan to implement strategies that address locally determined goals and milestones, according to an event description. The city is seeking community input, both through attendance on Friday and an online survey, to kick off a three-month community planning process to identify local priorities and areas of focus. Results from the online survey will be presented Friday.
"East Palo Alto (EPA) is rich with talent, commitment and capacity to provide quality services that can better ensure the success of children and youth in the city," an introduction to the survey reads. "Nevertheless, our young people still struggle and far too many do not see a future where they can thrive.
Because of this, we need to ask ourselves, are we using available resources in the most effective way? Is the City of East Palo Alto ensuring that policies and programs have the intended outcomes? My Brother's Keeper EPA, a partnership between the City of East Palo Alto and Silicon Valley Community Foundation seeks to answer these questions."
Nationally, the My Brother's Keeper initiative is eyeing six main goals: all children enter school ready to learn physically, socially and emotionally; all children read at grade level by third age; all youth graduate from high school ready for college and career; all youth complete post-secondary education or training; all youth out of school successfully enter the workforce; and all youth remain safe from violent crime and are given "second chances."
"So often, the issues facing boys and young men of color get caught up in long-running ideological arguments about race and class, and crime and poverty, the role of government, partisan politics," President Obama said in his 2014 speech announcing the initiative. "We've all heard those arguments before. But the urgency of the situation requires us to move past some of those old arguments and focus on getting something done and focusing on what works. It doesn't mean the arguments are unimportant; it just means that they can't paralyze us."
The East Palo Alto summit will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at 2415 University Ave., in a community room on the first floor. For more information, contact the city's community programs manager, Emily Pharr, at 650-853-3149 or firstname.lastname@example.org.