Obama, the first black U.S. president, said during his State
of the Union address in January that he intended to reach out to
leading foundations and corporations to help young men through a
program to be called "My Brother's Keeper."
In material describing the initiative, the White House cited
statistics that 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of
Hispanic boys read below proficiency levels in fourth grade,
compared with 58 percent of white boys reading below such
Disproportionate numbers of Latino and African American young
men enter the U.S. criminal justice system as well and are more
than six times as likely as white young men to be murdered, it
Obama hopes to alter that trajectory with a new government task
force that will study programs that are helping to address the
problems and recommend ways to expand them. The group, made up
of different government agencies, will also look at federal
policies and regulations that address the issue.
Separately, the White House said several foundations would
pledge to invest at least $200 million in programs that address
early childhood development, parenting, 3rd grade literacy, and
school discipline reform. The groups include Bloomberg
Philanthropies and the Ford Foundation among others.
"For decades, opportunity has disproportionately lagged behind
for boys and young men of color, particularly in our African
American and Latino communities," Obama senior adviser Valerie
Jarrett told reporters in a conference call.
"Across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help
put boys and young men of color on the path to opportunity and
success. The president intends to build on that work, and that's
what this initiative is all about."
She said the president and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama,
intended to continue their work on the issue after his term in
office ends in 2017.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Ken Wills)
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