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Mini Grant Program to support City's My Brother's Keeper Initiative

The City's New Director of My Brother's Keeper, Conan Harris, is tasked with leading the initiative.

BOSTON - Saturday, August 20, 2016 - Leading up to the two year anniversary of the launch of My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the launch of a mini grant program designed to help maximize MBK's impact in improving outcomes for young people of color. The $100,000 mini grant program is being launched in partnership with The Boston Foundation.

"In Boston, we are proud of our national leadership over the last two years in My Brother's Keeper," said Mayor Walsh. "When Boston decided to answer the call from President Obama, we showed our city's commitment to build on our collective strengths, and expand opportunities for young men of color. Together we will make Boston a city where every single child has real opportunity to reach his or her potential."

"The Boston Foundation is proud that the Obama administration chose our city to help expand and localize its 'My Brother's Keeper' initiative," said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the foundation. "We are also proud to contribute $25,000 to 'My Brother's Keeper Boston.' And we have committed an additional $25,000 from The Boston Foundation's Grassroots Action Fund to support good ideas and effective programs that arise from MBKB. We at the Boston Foundation appreciate the value of small-dollar contributions and believe strongly that our partnership with this local effort will see meaningful and positive change in the lives of thousands of young men of color who have been stymied by persistent opportunity gaps."

During a celebration held at the Bolling Building, Mayor Walsh joined leadership from Root Cause to announce the release of 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. The report maps the landscape of programs and organizations serving Black and Latino youth, assessing both strengths and opportunities for improvement. The report is the result of a joint collaboration between the City of Boston, Root Cause and Dr. James Jennings.

Key findings from the report include:

  • There are hundreds of organizations and programs collectively serving approximately 40,000 Black and Latino boys across Boston;

  • There is a need and opportunity to strategically coordinate these programs to build off the assets that Boston has in place;

MBK Boston's explicit focus on Black and Latino young men is well-positioned to provide a central anchor point around its three target milestones:

  • Graduating from high school ready for college and career

  • Successfully entering the workforce

  • Reducing youth violence and providing a second chance

"The report underscores the need to re-evaluate the way we deliver supports and services for these young men and correctly puts pressure on us to coordinate so that we can achieve better results," said Andrew Wolk, co-author of the report and the Founder and CEO of Root Cause.  "We believe that it is particularly well timed, given Mayor Walsh's commitment to the successful implementation of My Brother's Keeper (MBK) in Boston; we hope, in fact, that the report serves as a roadmap."

To lead this important effort, Mayor Walsh announced that Conan Harris will serve as the Director of MBK Boston, in addition to his current roles as the Deputy Director of Public Safety Initiatives in the Office of Public Safety. As the Director of MBK Boston, Harris will be responsible for working across city agencies, partners within the private and public sectors, as well as community-based organizations to support the development of our youth. As Deputy Director of Public Safety Initiatives, Harris has successfully strengthened the employment pipeline and mentorship opportunities for proven risk youth to better support their academic, professional and life success.

"I have tremendous confidence in Conan based on the fantastic work he has done in our Office of Public Safety," said Mayor Walsh. "His experience in strengthening ties across agencies and institutions to better serve and provide opportunities for our underserved youth make him a great fit for the role. Above all, his passion for My Brother's Keeper, and for helping positively shape the lives of our youth will help drive this important initiative forward."

Black and Latino boys and young men are a constituency of growing significance in Boston, representing more than half (52 percent) of all of Boston's males age 24 and under - a little more than 55,000 people - and more than two-thirds (67 percent) of all males age 17 and under.

Since being launched in Boston nearly two years ago, MBK Boston has already achieved significant success in areas, such as:

About MBK Boston

Mayor Martin J. 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.  Over the past two years, Mayor Walsh established the MBK Boston Advisory Committee which led engagement within the community and developed a set of guiding recommendations to support milestones across education, employment, public safety and second chances.  To learn more about MBK Boston or to get involved, visit

About Root Cause

Root Cause is a pragmatic partner to non-profits, foundations and governments. For over a decade, Root Cause has pioneered an efficient approach to services in strategic business planning, financial sustainability, performance measurement, and assessments and evaluation. Their team of consultants work with clients across the social sector, with particular expertise in education, employment and health. Together with leaders, Root Cause works to solve complex challenges, build capable organizations, assess impact and implement what's needed to turn strategies into action. Learn more about Root Cause.

About The Boston Foundation

As Greater Boston's community foundation, the Boston Foundation devotes its resources to building and sustaining a vital, prosperous city and region, where justice and opportunity are extended to everyone. We fulfill this mission in three principal ways: 1) Making grants to nonprofit organizations and designing special funding initiatives to address this community's critical challenges; 2) Working in partnership with donors and other funders to achieve high-impact philanthropy; and 3) Serving as a civic hub and center of information, where ideas are shared, levers for change are identified, and common agendas for the future are developed.

My Brother's Keeper Mayor's Office
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