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Special Initiatives

My Brother's Keeper

“By sharing their own stories and offering guidance and advice, mentors can instill a sense of infinite possibility in the hearts and minds of their mentees, demonstrating that with hard work and passion, nothing is beyond their potential."

- President Barack Obama

President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in February 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
Through this initiative, the Administration is joining with cities and towns, businesses, and foundations who are taking important steps to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way into the middle class.
Read the 2016 Progress Report: Two Years of Expanding Opportunity and Creating Pathways to Success, to see first-hand how My Brother's Keeper is making a difference.

National Service and Social Innovation Fund Support My Brother’s Keeper

Many AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Social Innovation Fund programs are working to support the My Brother’s Keeper initiative by increasing entry-level job, mentorship and apprenticeship options for all young people, including boys and young men of color.



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Richard Brooks
Strong City Baltimore
2015 to 2016

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Richard served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate in 2015 at Strong City Baltimore. He is now serving a full-year term at Strong City Baltimore, and is partnering with the Family League of Baltimore City’s My Brother’s Keeper program. Strong City Baltimore builds and strengthens neighborhoods and people. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Richard is helping to adapt the MBK program to meet the specific needs and goals of Baltimore City. He is building a network of community members, grassroots organizations, volunteers and donors to support the infrastructure of MBK Baltimore. In addition, as part of a broader AmeriCorps VISTA initiative in Baltimore, Richard is working with 16 other AmeriCorps VISTA members to improve collaboration among workforce and youth-service providers in the city. Following his AmeriCorps VISTA term, Richard plans to use his AmeriCorps Education Award to study Human Services and continuing work with youth

Tim Gunn headshot
Tim Gunn
The Sustainability Institute
2013 to 2016
2016 Corps Network Member of the Year

Watch Tim's inspiring story.

In 2009, Tim became the first male in two generations of his family to graduate from high school. Following graduation, he attended college in North Carolina. What started as a positive experience, however, quickly took a turn down the wrong path. Tim began skipping classes and indulging in alcohol and drugs. Tim was eventually arrested for cocaine and a gun charge before he reached the age of 20. During his last couple of months of his incarceration he met an AmeriCorps member, Ladine “JR” Daniels, at bible study.

JR explained how his AmeriCorps experience with The Sustainability Institute changed his life, which inspired Tim and gave him the same sense of hope. Upon his release from prison, Tim contacted JR and enrolled in The Sustainability Institute. Now in his third AmeriCorps term of service, Tim is an Assistant Site Supervisor and leads other AmeriCorps members in home energy retrofitting projects. Tim was identified early in his service as having the potential to be a great leader. He mentors new members as they enter service, while also mentoring youth within the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. Tim Gunn was recently honored as a 2016 Corps Network Member of the Year.

The Corps Network is part of Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps, which connect young people to mentoring, support networks and job skills to help them reach their full potential. The Sustainability Institute empowers South Carolinians to conserve energy and reduce our environmental impact where we live and work.

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Jaleel Holmes
Youth Empowerment Project
2015 to 2016

Jaleel Holmes is a 2014 graduate of the New Orleans Providing Literacy to All Youth (NOPLAY) program, an initiative of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). YEP, operates 10 programs that serve over 1,000 youth annually. To specifically support young people who are not enrolled in the traditional K-12 system, YEP works as a collaborative member of New Orleans Opportunity Works, a demonstration pilot supported by the Opportunity Works grant, to provide high quality adult education instruction, post-secondary application assistance, retention support, employment readiness training, and individualized wrap-around supportive services unique to each youth and their individual circumstances. While working toward earning his high school equivalency, Jaleel also enrolled at YEP's Work & Learn Center where he was trained in building and repairing bikes and received certification in Customer Service. Jaleel was a standout participant in the program and completed his high school equivalency in 2015. After graduating, he was invited to work with YEP as a junior counselor during YEP’s summer camp program, Kids Xpress. Since then, Jaleel has continued to work with YEP and the Work & Learn Center where he is now the full-time manager of the Juice Box, Work & Learn’s newest business venture in Roux Carre, a local food court.

YEP is part of the Social Innovation Fund’s Jobs for the Future/Opportunity Works grant, which seeks to improve education and career outcomes for youth disconnected from school or work. 

Elina Mushimiyimana headshot
Elina Mushimiyimana
Philadelphia Youth Network
2015 to 2016

Elina is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who now call Philadelphia home. Elina participates in a college bridging program that is part of the Philadelphia Youth Network. Elina came to the program from Congreso Community Center in North Philadelphia where she is working towards her GED. Elina demonstrated not only academic potential, but also a powerfully positive attitude and grit in the college preparatory phase of the program and is now on track to successfully complete her first college course at the Community College of Philadelphia. Elina’s ultimate goal is to become a nurse and her participation in this program has provided a means for Elina to embark on her journey towards a college degree while receiving intensive and individualized academic and social support to help her reach her goals.

The Philadelphia Youth Network is part of the Social Innovation Fund’s Jobs for the Future/Opportunity Works grant, which seeks to improve education and career outcomes for youth disconnected from school or work. 

Noraitza Ruiz headshot
Noraitza Ruiz
Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative
2015 to 2016

Noraitza is a second year Peer Leader with the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) Youth Voice Project. The Boston OYC reconnects young adults to education and employment pathways and uses innovative solutions to fill gaps and better connect stakeholders in the system that currently serves opportunity youth. The Youth Voice Project is a youth program that leads outreach to opportunity youth to advise the OYC. As a Peer Leader, Noraitza provides research and outreach strategies to find data that may help the OYC engage youth in Boston. Noraitza joined the Youth Voice Project because she wanted to help raise awareness around issues that affect youth and young adults in Boston. Through the Youth Voice Project, she has further developed her love for political engagement and urban education renewal. She has helped the OYC’s Connection Center with outreach to Opportunity Youth, she has testified at state and local advocacy events, and she has polled local youth about what kind of pathways they would like to see in Boston.  In the process, she became a customer of the Connection Center and was accepted into Year Up Boston.  Noraitza’s experience with the Youth Voice Project has helped affirm her dream of pursuing a career in Business and one day holding Political office in the City of Boston.

The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative is part of the Social Innovation Fund’s Jobs for the Future/Opportunity Works grant, which seeks to improve education and career outcomes for youth disconnected from school or work.

Mission St. Louis AmeriCorps VISTA members
Mission St. Louis
AmeriCorps VISTA 2016

Watch the inspiring story of Mission St. Louis.

Mission St. Louis partners with nearly 30 local businesses that provide internships, jobs, and mentoring to young men in St. Louis. More than 90% of individuals who come to Mission St. Louis have some type of felony on their record, and Mission St. Louis helps them develop critical life skills to turn their life around. They provide financial literacy classes, job training, and professional development.  AmeriCorps VISTA helps Mission St. Louis implement and expand their programs to help more individuals receive these life-changing services. By the end of an eight week program, 65% of participants have jobs.

New Lens Urban Mentoring Society painted mural
New Lens Urban Mentoring Society
AmeriCorps VISTA 2016

Watch the inspiring story of the New Lens Urban Mentoring Society.

The New Lens Urban Mentoring Society is a multi-generational mentoring organization in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for black males by providing culturally-congruent, multi-generational mentoring to address mental, physical, and social development. They focus on young men in 8th grade, which is a pivotal grade before high school, pairing mentees with elder mentors to give them positive role models. AmeriCorps VISTA helps New Lens Urban Mentoring Society provide instant impact in the community. And, with the help of AmeriCorps VISTA, New Lens Urban Mentoring Society is set to double the number of children they serve within five years.

Jerrell Waters headshot
Jerrell Waters
Boston Youth Service Network
2015 to 2016

Early in life, Jerrell experienced the violence of the streets. He was shot and stabbed on the same day, which almost cost him his life. Jerrell grew up blinded by his environment; he thought that life could be nothing more than what was in front of him.

Through his work with the Boston Youth Service Network (BYSN), Jerrell realized he had the power, potential, and resources to do anything he wanted to do. Jerrell was connected to a mentor, obtained his GED, took college prep classes, and transitioned into college in one year.

Jerrell has stayed focused and followed the guidance of his mentors and advisers, which led to the work that he does today. Jerrell now leads the Youth Council of the Boston Youth Service Network, the same Network he joined as a youth member two years ago.  The BYSN is part of the Social Innovation Fund’s Jobs for the Future/Opportunity Works grant, which seeks to improve education and career outcomes for youth disconnected from school or work.

Jerrell truly believes in youth empowerment and leadership as he has seen the changes they brought in his life. He hopes to make that difference in the lives of young people around him.


Grandpa Robert Wood headshot
Robert Wood
Senior Corps Foster Grandparents 2016

Watch Grandpa Wood's inspiring story.

Robert Wood serves as a Senior Corps Foster Grandparent, mentoring youth in Baltimore’s juvenile justice system. Senior Corps Foster Grandparents are tutors, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs. The program provides a way for volunteers age 55 and over to stay active by serving children and youth in their communities. For ten years, Grandpa Wood has volunteered his time to inspire kids through his art. Grandpa Wood sees potential in the youth he serves. He has helped mentor young men to help them realize their potential, including graduating from school.

Get Involved, Become a Mentor

Mentoring is a centerpiece of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative because of the proven impact on positive outcomes.

MBK is also a call to action for Americans to make a difference for young people by becoming a mentor. Research shows that the presence of a mentor in a young person’s life significantly improves their potential for success.

Through mentoring, you can make a difference in the life of a young person in a lot of ways, and the most important is just to be there. Now is the time to get involved and change the life of a young person who needs your support -- it's easy to search for mentoring opportunities in your community!

Find an Opportunity


My Brother's Keeper Milestones

My Brother's Keeper identified key milestones in the path to adulthood that are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact:

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1.  Entering School Ready to Learn

All children should have a healthy start and enter school ready -- cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally. 

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2. Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade

All children should be reading at grade level by age 8 -- the age at which reading to learn becomes essential. 

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3. Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career

Every American child should have the option to attend postsecondary education and receive the education and training needed for the quality jobs of today and tomorrow. 

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4. Completing Post-Secondary Education or Training

All Americans should recieve the education and training needed for quality jobs of today and tomorrow. 

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5. Successfully Entering the Workforce

Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families. 

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6. Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance

All children should be safe from violent crime; and individuals who are confined should receive the education, training, and treatment they need for a second chance. 



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