Inspired by HomeGrown STL’s “strong track record of working to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color,” the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance has named HomeGrown STL a “Community to Watch.”
Professor Sean Joe, director of HomeGrown STL, announced the designation last week at HomeGrown’s third annual regional summit, “Building Capacity for Community and Systems Change.”
“The nation is looking at us,” Joe told more than 150 participants at the summit. The summit is an annual working-group meeting that brings together researchers, service providers, funders and other allies to accelerate strategies to improve the health, development and upward mobility of black boys and young men in St. Louis City and County.
President Barack Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) from the White House five years ago. Its purpose is “to address the persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color to ensure all youth can reach their full potential,” according to a letter to Joe from Broderick D. Johnson, chair of the MBK Alliance Advisory Council, and Michael D. Smith, executive director of the MBK Alliance.
“Since that time an unstoppable movement has grown to uphold and advance that promise,” they wrote. “You and your organization are a critical part of that movement and we’re excited to work alongside you in the months and years ahead.”
HomeGrown STL is an initiative of the Race and Opportunity Lab, based at the Center for Social Development. It focuses on building capacity to better serve and foster the positive development of young black males ages 12-29. The initiative centers on the understanding that solutions to the problems facing young black boys and men in the St. Louis region must come from the region itself with good use of data and strategic action. (See “Social Mobility: The Necessary Focus of St. Louis Investment in Black Males.”)
MBK Alliance will spotlight HomeGrown STL’s successes, provide support and technical assistance to strengthen its funding proposals, and create opportunities for funders to learn about HomeGrown STL’s work, according to the letter.
On February 18-20, Joe and Robert Motley, a Brown School doctoral candidate who manages the Race and Opportunity Lab, will attend the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper’s Alliance first national convening, in Oakland, California.
“The Obama Foundation designation for HomeGrown STL makes clear that, in just a very short period of time, our region has demonstrated outstanding potential to lead in this nation when it comes to advancing the well-being of black boys and young men,” Joe said.