The Education Dept. is leading a new effort to encourage cities, counties and tribes to execute a cradle-to-college and career strategy to reduce the high school dropout rate and improve life outcomes for all youth.
The My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge is part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative to improve opportunities for minority youth. The new effort has a broader target to address the needs of all underserved youth and follows up on the recommendations of the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Task Force’s May 28 report, said Jim Shelton, DoEd deputy secretary of education and task force executive director. Shelton participated in a conference call to lay out the specifics of the effort.
The urgency of the situation requires a sustained effort, Shelton said. Local leadership is essential to building partnerships and developing plans of action to ensure a brighter future for all young people, he said.
Private Sector Help
There is no money connected with the challenge, but the planning efforts will make it easier for participants to win grants. About 140 communities have already signed up.
“Resources are always a challenge,” said HUD Secy. Julián Castro, “but we believe that there are a lot of best practices out there that local leaders can benefit from. And, getting a plan forward with the private sector to benefit young people makes a huge difference.”
The My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge encourages communities to convene leaders and identify effective strategies. Communities should:
- Ensure all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready;
- Ensure all children read at grade level by third grade;
- Ensure all youth graduate from high school;
- Ensure all youth complete post-secondary education or training;
- Ensure all youth out of school are employed;
- Ensure all youth remain safe from violent crime.
Increasing the graduation rate to 100% will be a significant hurdle by itself. The current graduation rate is about 80% and it has been difficult to improve that rate.