One of my favorite things about launching our My Brother’s Keeper initiative has been spending time with some outstanding young people from across the country. Whether it’s shooting hoops with the young people in our White House Mentorship and Leadership program, or chatting over soul food with teens from New Orleans, I’ve gotten to know some great kids who are succeeding despite the odds.
Many of them are going through the same issues I faced growing up. I was angry about not having a dad in the house — something I didn’t realize at the time. I made dumb mistakes. I didn’t always follow the straight path. But I was fortunate. I had people in my life who encouraged me — my mom, my grandparents, my teachers. I had a support system of folks who pushed me to work hard and make the most of myself.
Every young person in America deserves the same opportunities I had: a world-class education, a pathway to apply for college or find a job, and a chance to lay a foundation for a career and a family.
But the fact is that in America, some groups have the odds stacked against them across multiple generations. And by so many measures, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century are boys and young men of color.
That’s why we started My Brother’s Keeper: to bring together the private and public sector to ensure that all young people in America can reach their full potential.
In just two years, My Brother’s Keeper has come a long way. Nearly 250 communities across 50 states, 19 tribal nations, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have committed to supporting our kids from cradle to college to career. We’ve implemented new federal programs that are breaking down barriers to opportunity. And foundations and companies have made more than $1 billion in commitments to strengthen communities and transform lives.
I’ll be talking more about the progress that we’ve made with My Brother’s Keeper tonight in a conversation at North Carolina A&T State University. You can watch on ESPN’s Facebook page at 10pm ET.
We’ll also be celebrating several major new commitments supporting MBK’s goals — like nearly 50 companies signing on to our new #FirstJob Compact, committing to develop better practices to hire disconnected youth, and the Sprint Corporation’s announcement that it will provide 1 million high-school students who don’t have the Internet at home with mobile devices.
If Michelle and I had a son, we’d want him to have the same thing we want for our daughters — to grow up with a boundless sense of possibility. We’d want him to have respect for himself and for others, a commitment to hard work, and the opportunity to achieve his dreams. As Americans, that’s what we should all want for all children.
President Barack Obama