Something unusual happened in Chicago last month. Leaders of 26 of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations convened to discuss the very urgent crisis among boys and men of color in the United States. Despite alarming trends facing this demographic in educational attainment, rates of incarceration, employment, and health and well-being; our nation is reluctant to talk explicitly about race as a barrier to opportunity. This must change because failing to address these issues will have significant negative implications for America’s future. As boys and men of color are being excluded from economic, social, educational, and political life in shocking numbers, we are in the midst of a transformation that will result in us being a majority-minority nation in as little as 30 years. When these two realities collide, the consequences will be dire for our ability to compete in the global economy. The recent gathering of leaders to consider these issues is a promising step in the right direction. Even more important is the subsequent pledge of participating organizations to form an alliance to collaboratively “evaluate promising approaches, advocate for effective public policy and systems change, and invest in these young men as assets for America’s future.“
Living Cities, a two decades-old collaborative of 22 foundations and financial institutions working to improve outcomes for low-income people in US cities, believes firmly in the power of this type of ‘high stakes donor collaboration’. And, the Admiral Center, our initiative that is working to build a network of athletes and celebrities using their resources and influence to accelerate solutions, has been energetically working on these issues with its partners for the last 3 years. Now, we are excited and inspired to be joining this group of high-performing social change organizations in making this unprecedented commitment to collectively support and catalyze efforts to improve life chances for these boys and men. And, we are joining our voice to those of individuals and organizations already active in this space in asking other public, private and philanthropic organizations to join the movement as we begin to plan for concrete action.
Alliance members include: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the California Community Foundation, the Denver Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Sierra Health Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; the Open Society Foundations; the California Endowment; Casey Family Programs; the Community Foundation of South Alabama; the Foundation for the Mid South; Headwaters Foundation for Justice,Living Cities; and the Schott Foundation for Public Education.