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Boston to host 12th annual Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color Conference

May 24, 2018

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

The conference will convene local leaders and educators from around the country for discussions surrounding the theme: Boys of Color: Liberated, Empowered and Educated.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the City of Boston has been selected to host the 12th annual Gathering of Leaders conference that will be hosted by the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC), My Brother's Keeper Boston and the Boston Public Schools, and in partnership with Suffolk University. The conference will convene local leaders and educators from around the country for discussions surrounding the theme: Boys of Color: Liberated, Empowered and Educated.

The conference will take place from May 29-31, 2018 at the Boston Park Plaza hotel. MBK Boston, under the leadership of Director Conan Harris, will help oversee the Young Men's Passage program, as part of the Gathering of Leaders, which convenes young men of color for a two-day program that includes team-building activities and inspirational sessions.

"As a city leader in promoting the advancement of young men of color through MBK Boston, Boston is proud to host this conference that will bring together many thought leaders for a dialogue to action for how we can best support this important work," said Mayor Walsh.

Mayor Walsh launched MBK Boston in September 2014, accepting President Barack Obama's MBK Community Challenge as part of the White House My Brother's Keeper (MBK) initiative to create positive pathways for youth, especially boys and young men of color. Following the launch of the program, Mayor Walsh established the MBK Boston Advisory Board, which led engagement within the community and developed a set of guiding recommendations to support milestones across education, employment, public safety and second chances.

"We look forward to welcoming educators as well as parents and families, community advocates, policy makers, and other supporters to Boston, where the Gathering of Leaders got its start in 2007," said COSEBOC Executive Director Ron Walker. "The learning and collaborating that will take place during the Gathering will undoubtedly contribute to the educational success of countless boys and young men of color locally and nationally."

Components of this year's Gathering of Leaders will include:

  • For Leaders Only pre-conference session facilitated by Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, a nationally-recognized author and educator;

  • National and local speakers including keynotes Dr. Christopher Emdin of Teachers College, Columbia University, Roberto Rivera, an award-winning artist, educator, and change agent, and Barrington Irving, nationally-recognized STEM educator and pioneering aviator;

  • Tours of eight schools in Boston; and

  • The Walk of Integrity, which celebrates our young men of color.

"This gathering of leaders represents a call to action for us to continue this important work of breaking down barriers for our young boys and men of color, while lifting them up so they can fulfill their God-given potential," said Conan Harris, Director of My Brother's Keeper Boston. "I'm grateful to all of our partners who are making this important gathering happen, and for our youth leaders who will continue to take the charge set before them to push this necessary work forward."

As part of the gathering, more than 100 educators and young men representing the BPS 10 Boys Initiative, Becoming a Man (BAM) and Sociedad Latina will participate.

"As a school district and a city, we must ensure that 100% of our students are prepared for college, career, and life in the 21st century," BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang said. "We can't do that unless we close opportunity and achievement gaps. This is our mission. And it is a mission we share with the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color. The theme of this year's conference, "Boys & Young Men of Color: Liberated, Empowered & Educated," closely aligns with the critical work we are doing to ensure that all of our students - particularly those who have historically been most marginalized - have an opportunity to succeed at the highest levels."

The COSEBOC gathering will bring together leaders from both public and private sectors, who share the common goal of advancing opportunities for young men of color. A key partner in the COSEBOC gathering is Suffolk University, which will provide space and support for youth participants. Since its founding, Suffolk University has provided educational opportunities to those who have often been underrepresented in academia -- including first-generation college students and students of color.

"As an institution committed since our founding to access and opportunity, Suffolk University is very proud to partner with COSEBOC on this important event," said Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly.  "We are working hard to be sure that we are providing transformational educational pathways to students of all races and backgrounds. Helping young men of color see the possibilities available to them through higher education is critically important, and doing so is part of our commitment to the city of Boston and beyond."

Since it was first established, MBK Boston has:

  • Partnered with RootCause to release a report,'Mapping Momentum', that outlines recommended strategic priorities to improve life outcomes for Black and Latino boys and young men based on a scan of 142 surveyed nonprofits in the city.

  • Launched a mini grant program to support mentorship, creative discussions, and activities by nonprofits and organizations who will direct their efforts toward helping young people of color

  • Been involved in conversations at a national level regarding MBK Boston.

  • Scaled up up Operation Exit by expanding it to include opportunities in the technology industry through a partnership with Resilient Coders;

  • Recruited new mentors through the Mayor's mentoring movement, and provided continued support of youth summer jobs and meaningful employment

The City's partnership with COSEBOC supports MBK Boston's three Milestone Goals for boys and young men of color: Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career, Successfully Entering the Workforce, Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance.

To learn more about MBK Boston or to get involved, visit

About Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC)

Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) is a nationally recognized, non-profit organization bolstered by a membership network of school and organizational leaders dedicated to educating boys and young men of color. COSEBOC is the only national organization solely focused on convening leaders to provide research-based professional development to change school culture, policies and instructional strategies. Program strands include Standards and Promising Practices for Schools Educating Boys of Color, Restorative Justice, and Rites of Passage. For more information visit