President Barack Obama cited research carried out by the University of Chicago Crime Lab in launching a new initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper,” designed to empower young men of color.
The new initiative, announced in a White House event on Feb. 27, will be funded with at least $200 million from foundations that have committed to finding and spreading solutions that help improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
One of the proven programs President Obama mentioned was the mentoring and counseling initiative Becoming A Man, developed by the Chicago non-profits Youth Guidance and World Sport Chicago. He cited research conducted by the UChicago Crime Lab, showing that a BAM pilot program in the Chicago Public Schools decreased violent crime arrests of participants by 44 percent. A recent study also found that students participating in BAM were more likely to graduate from high school.
“We are so pleased that Youth Guidance’s program Becoming A Man, with its strong evidence of impact, is providing inspiration for President Obama’s new initiative My Brother’s Keeper," said Roseanna Ander, Executive Director of the Crime Lab. "This new initiative has the potential to build on BAM’s success and generate new evidence that is needed to ensure that violence, crime and related challenges like school dropout do not continue to steal so many lives, so many dreams and so many possibilities of our young men of color in this country."
Hyde Park Academy High School student Christian Champagne, who is in the BAM program, introduced President Obama at the White House event. Champagne noted that the president had attended a BAM session at the school last year and later said, “I could see myself in these young men.” Champagne described that session as one of the greatest experiences of his life.
“Meeting the president, and having him tell me that my life now is not different than the way his was, made me realize I have potential too,” Champagne said.
In speaking directly to the young men standing behind him at the announcement, Obama told them the effort is a two-way bargain between themselves and their community. “Nothing will be given to you. The world is tough out there,” the president said. “I know you guys can succeed.”