Following a recent spate of racial unrest in Baltimore, President Barack Obama announced Monday that he is turning his “ My Brother's Keeper” program that helps boost opportunities for young minority boys into a new, non-profit foundation.
“How well we do as a nation depends on how well our young people are succeeding,” Obama said at Lehman College in the Bronx New York.
Obama created the program to boost young minority boys across the country in 2014 after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a teenager in Florida.
Since then, a series of clashes have occurred in Ferguson, Mo., Charleston, S.C., Cleveland, New York City and most recently in Baltimore, where a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, died from a spinal injury suffered while he was in police custody.
“This about more than economics,” Obama said. “It’s about values. It’s about who we are as a people.”
Obama, who has begun to think about his post-presidential life, said that he will work on the issue after he leaves the White House.
“This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency but for the rest of our lives,” he said.
The non-profit -- the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance -- will be made up of celebrities, athletes, CEOs and current and former government officials, including singer John Legend, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
It will focus on young men as they reach certain milestones: enter grade school, middle childhood, graduate from high school, finish college and enter the workforce.
“At the end of the day what kind of society do we want to have?” Obama said.
Earlier, Obama had a discussion with a group of men from the college who could benefit from the alliance.
“Part of what we wanted to do was to make sure we heard directly from young people who oftentimes are growing up in really tough situations -- single-parent households, low-income communities, crime-infested areas,” Obama said. “We’ve heard stories of some of these young men being stopped and put on the ground by police for no reason. Domestic abuse inside the household. Situations where the schools don’t seem to be invested in their success.
“And yet, despite all that, these young men are succeeding in some remarkable ways,” he said. “And part of what I heard from them was that they’re succeeding because somewhere along the line they’ve received a mentor, somebody who’s just paying attention to them and giving them some sense of direction.”