In an interview with President Obama conducted on May 18 from Camden, New Jersey, Mr. Obama shared his own personal experiences as a young man as well as his motivation for and commitment to the My Brother's Keeper initiative. He also discussed the goals of the initiative, which include ensuring all youth complete their post-secondary education and training and are employed once they're out of school.
"As President Obama has made abundantly clear, now more than ever we need to change the narrative in this country around boys and young men of color," said John Hoffman, Executive Vice President of Documentaries and Specials for Discovery Channel. "Dawn Porter's artful storytelling serves as a powerful testament to the vital importance that strong communities, involved families, and dedicated educators all play in ensuring that all of our children have an equal chance at success."
In the film RISE: THE PROMISE OF MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, Bishop T.D. Jakes tells us, "What I love about being a part of My Brother's Keeper is that it says that no man is disposable, no man is optional, that every life is valuable . . . whenever a child is confronted with high expectations and someone dares to dream of what they can be, it causes wind to get beneath their wings."
Other mentors and students featured in the film include Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools Dr. S. Dallas Dance; Youth Guidance's B.A.M. supervisor Anthony Bharataji Joplin; 2013 Urban Prep graduate David Peake; Halstead Academy principal Jennifer Mullenax; YouthBuild alumnus Johnny Herber; National Evangelical Coalition President Rev. Gabriel Salguero; Principal of Tarkington School of Excellence Vincent Iturralde; and parent mentor Joe Blanding, Jr., among others. These mentors and students are changing the narrative about young men of color and the results from the programs are undeniable.
RISE: THE PROMISE OF MY BROTHER'S KEEPER includes the following programs:
Urban Prep Academies operates a network of all-boys public schools including the country's first charter high school for boys. A Chicago-based group, Urban Prep's mission is to provide a high-quality and comprehensive college-preparatory educational experience to young men that results in their graduates succeeding in college. For the past six years, 100 percent of Urban Prep graduates--all Black males and most from low-income families--have been admitted to a four-year college or university. Today, Urban Prep serves 1,400 students. Through its robust Alumni and Fellows program, Urban Prep supports its more than 600 alumni across the country to ensure they have access to the support and resources they need to succeed in college and in their careers after college completion.
Halstead Academy of Art and Science in Baltimore County fulfills the MBK mission by preparing students for academic success and for life beyond school, as they remain dedicated to creating a culture that fosters and promotes excellence by delivering a comprehensive, quality program that adapts to the needs of students and their families by providing a safe and engaging learning environment with high expectations for all. Currently, African American students at Halstead significantly outperform their peers at comparable schools in both math and reading.
The Yuba/Sutter program of YouthBuild in rural northern CA unleashes the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, family, service, and community. In the over 260 local YouthBuild programs in the United States, low-income young people who left high school without a diploma spend half their time in individualized classrooms completing their secondary education and the other half learning construction skills through building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their neighborhoods. An emphasis is placed on leadership development and civic engagement within a caring community of peers and adults. 75% of the Yuba/Sutter YouthBuild graduates enroll in college or find meaningful employment.
Youth Guidance's Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) is a dropout- and violence-prevention program for at-risk male students in grades 7-12 that offers in-school programming to develop social-cognitive skills strongly correlated with reductions in violent and anti-social behavior. Participants learn about and practice impulse control, reading social cues and interpreting intentions of others, raising aspirations for the future and developing a sense of personal responsibility and integrity. A 2011 University of Chicago Crime Lab study revealed that B.A.M. reduces violent crime arrests and weapons crime by 44%, and increases school achievement and graduation rates by up to 23%. The program currently serves 2,000 young men of color in 43 Chicago public schools.
As part of Discovery's commitment to build awareness and drive discussion of this important issue on a local level, Discovery Education, in coordination with the launch of RISE: THE PROMISE OF MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, hosted town halls and screenings of the film in Chicago and Philadelphia in partnership with minority non-profits to discuss My Brother's Keeper stories of intervention and ways that communities can get involved.
RISE: THE PROMISE OF MY BROTHER'S KEEPER is produced by Discovery Studios for Discovery Channel where John Hoffman is executive producer with Alexandra Moss as supervising producer. The film is directed and produced for Discovery Studios by Dawn Porter with James Barrat as producer. Mike Masland serves as executive producer.