“The stars are aligned now,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler as he addressed those gathered for the second-annual SXSWedu Greater Austin Area My Brother’s Keeper Community Dialogue.
“[Now is the time] to redirect energy resources to advance the full potential of everyone who lives here in Austin,” Adler said in his opening remarks.
It has been a busy year for the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Austin, which is co-chaired by Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement at UT Austin, and Mark Madrid, CEO for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
What began last year as a gathering at SXSWedu to address the barriers that area boys and young men of color face is now a formal organization with support from the City of Austin, Travis County, local universities, school districts and public and private industry. The organization is focusing its efforts on six local priority areas, which include improvements in reading levels in early education, high school, college and career readiness, health and wellness, violence intervention programs and more. The team will use data to measure progress in each priority area.
Michael Smith, special assistant to President Obama and senior director of cabinet affairs for My Brother’s Keeper, also spoke at the SXSWedu event. Paraphrasing Obama, Smith said that there is not a single thing more important to the future of America than whether or not young men of color can achieve their dreams, putting into perspective the importance of the initiative’s work.
In his closing, Mayor Adler gave the group a challenge: to bring results to the same meeting in 2017.
“One year ago we were a group that was joining together with the prospect of doing something real,” he said. “I like the idea of one year ago because it’s important to look back, but I want this to really be one year before. One year before we gather and we no longer are talking about ideas, but about what we have accomplished.”