York City roundtable focuses on black men and boys


York City has accepted President Barack Obama's My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge, a nationwide initiative to connect young people — especially young men of color — to mentoring, support networks and training they need to be successful in life.

The program is about building a strong network of connections.

With that in mind, Mayor Kim Bracey and Jamiel Alexander, a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, will host a group of male community leaders for a Brother's Brunch Saturday at the YWCA York. Alexander is involved with My Brother's Keeper on the national level.

At the event, participants will begin to chart a plan of action to address the obstacles and close "opportunity gaps" faced by the city's youth.

"I'm calling our men to join together at the community's table to develop an action-oriented plan, to embrace strategic partnerships and impact volunteerism, that will enhance the path to success for our youth in the community," Bracey said in a news release.

But the table won't be filled with York's business leaders, said Edquina Washington, the city's director of community relations.

Instead, the action-planning session will include "everyday men in the community who consistently give back but who often go unrecognized," she said. She declined to release their names, citing privacy.

"We are definitely looking forward to the dialogue and drafting of the City of York's plan to move forward with the program," said Washington.

How it works: The program, which the president unveiled in February 2014, provides a set of goals aimed at expanding opportunities and improving life outcomes for young men of color.

According to, the program's six milestones are that all youth:

•enter school ready to learn,

•read at grade level by third grade,

•graduate from high school ready for college and a career,

•complete post-secondary education or training,

•enter the workforce and

•are safe from violence and provided a second chance.

In addition to providing youth with opportunities to receive support and get involved in their communities, the program's participants work to investigate and combat obstacles to each of the six goals.

Philadelphia was one of the first communities to embrace the program.

In a blog post, organizers of My Brother's Keeper Philadelphia recorded insight gained in a listening session during a stakeholder meeting last January.

Addressing five of the six milestones, the group discussed obstacles, solutions, and organizations and programs that "work to impact" the milestones.

For example, for Milestone One, making sure children enter school ready to learn, participants cited many factors, including parents' lack of emphasis on the importance of school, limited English proficiency, bullying, pressures caused by poverty, unequal access to information and lack of culturally based Head Start and early education programs.