- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2015

Days after racial tensions bubbled to the surface and led to violence on the streets of Baltimore, President Obama on Monday will speak about the educational and economic challenges facing young men of color and also will announce an expansion of his signature My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

During a speech at Lehman College in New York City, Mr. Obama will promote the formation of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an independent nonprofit comprised of top business leaders, professional athletes, civil rights leaders, local leaders and other stakeholders.

The alliance’s primary mission, according to the White House, is to “eliminate the gaps in opportunity and achievement for boys and young men of color.”

The alliance already has secured more than $80 million in private financial commitments to fund grant competitions, infrastructure projects in inner cities and a so-called “playbook” for corporations and businesses to teach them about the key obstacles facing men of color and how to address them.

The new phase of the president’s program comes just days after six Baltimore city police officers were charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, who sustained fatal injuries while in police custody last week. The incident touched off riots and protests last week and ultimately led to a citywide 10 p.m. curfew, which has since been lifted.

The White House argues improving education and providing more economic opportunity in major cities is key to reducing crime and preventing violence.

“For so many of us, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative is deeply personal. As a proud son of Baltimore, this week’s announcement comes at a time of unique and special resonance for me,” said Broderick Johnson, chairman of the president’s My Brother’s Keeper task force, formed in 2014.

“As the country reflects on our shared responsibility to ensure that opportunity reaches every young person, I urge everyone to look at their own capacity to make a difference. Whether it’s taking time to mentor, tutoring young people in your neighborhood, or creating new internship or apprenticeship opportunities for young people in your community — everyone can play a role in building a brighter future,” he said. “The president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative is about recognizing that our young people are not the problem, but rather the solution.”

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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