My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is an initiative was launched in 2015 under the Obama Foundation. Its focus is building safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color and is an alliance where they will feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunities.

The program kick-off the was Monday night at Pine Bluff Convention Center. Students from area schools, members of the clergy community, representatives from non-profit organizations and city leaders were present to brainstorm.

Mayor Shirley Washington gave words at the meeting saying “I spent 38 years working in education and the vast majority of my years were in Pine Bluff in the Pine Bluff School District. Every day I think about my former students. I think about how bright and talented they were, but also how many barriers they faced when they attempted to live up to their God given potential. I see educators, students and family here tonight and I can imagine you can relate to my feelings. Over the last two years as Mayor, I am proud that we have been able to leverage our City’s resources to support our young people and that’s our goal as we move forward. As we rebuild this city, it is not for those of my generation but for the future.”

The room was divided into four groups with each group representing one of the six milestones that are a part of the strategy to effectively make an impact within the program. The six milestones include entering school healthy and ready to learn, reading at grade level by third grade, graduating from high school ready for college and career, completing postsecondary education or credentialing, successfully connecting the economy, reducing and providing a second chance. Before dividing the room into groups, the mayor’s youth council was asked, “What can adults do to help you succeed and put youth at the center of our community?” Pine Bluff High School senior and mayor of the youth council Christopher Blunt Jr answered, “One thing I try to speak on a lot is older people try to go back in time and say ‘back in the day we did this or that’ but we’re in a totally different generation and you guys have to understand that we want find out some things on our own, and when things happen and we have issues, just be there by our side, because I was raised in a home where we believed with God, anything is possible.”

Pine Bluff My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper initiative is being modeled after the San Francisco Alliance for My Brother’s & Sister’s Keeper initiative. “This initiative is called my brother’s keeper and we’re adding my sister’s keeper here in Pine Bluff because we can not leave out all of the talented and dedicated women who serve youth in our community every day,” says Mayor Washington.