Las Vegas is one of more than 100 communities nationwide to accept the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ My Brother’s Keeper initiative to combat the disparities within minority communities.
The initiative was launched last year and reintroduced in September by President Barack Obama to encourage communities to brainstorm and find solutions to help low-income, minority youths graduate from high school and college and become productive residents and future leaders.
“I have always been a believer in equality for mankind,” said Mayor Carolyn Goodman. “Intercity youth and young people of color do not have an equal opportunity in life. It’s time for us to step up to the plate and give our young people a better shot at life.”
Nationwide, 52 percent of young black men graduate from high school compared with 78 percent of their white, male peers, according to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, a foundation that develops and strengthens the movement for equality in education and child care.
In Nevada, the percentage of young black men finishing high school is 52 percent and Latinos 48 percent, compared to their white counterparts at 61 percent.
On Nov. 10, officials from the city of Las Vegas partnered with Nevada Partners to host the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge Summit.
Participants discussed existing local policies, programs and practices that could be expanded or introduced to better serve minorities.
The goal of the summit was to find ways to ensure that all children read at grade level by third grade and graduate from high school, said Lisa Morris Hibbler, deputy director of the city of Las Vegas office of community service.
The summit also aims to create ways to eliminate the “school to prison pipeline” by addressing the disproportionate number of minority children that enter the juvenile justice system.
“Without a doubt, young boys and men of color tend to have a difficult time in our society,” Morris Hibbler said. “But many people in poverty also struggle with these issues. Our plan is to help everyone in the community.”
The committee, made up of local nonprofits and city leaders, has 120 days to come up with a set plan to ensure the goals are met and implemented by next year.
Among some of the issues that were discussed was lack of nutrition, parenting and reading.
In response, the committee plans to connect with 64 different organizations to offer the youth support in terms of mentoring, food assistance and helping parents with employment opportunities.
Dr. Tiffany Tyler, chief operations officer at Nevada Partners, said there are nine key areas the committee will focus on, including: employment, education, housing, health, family engagement, economic development, prevention, food assistance and transportation.
This fall, Tyler said West Preparatory Academy is serving as a My Brother’s Keeper pilot site.
“Students will benefit from co-location of the dean and counseling offices to ensure students are afforded wraparound services and alternative interventions when challenges occur,” Tyler said.
The collaborative effort is also offering capacity building workshops to collaborative partners, mentoring organizations and affiliates of the Nevada Parent-Teacher Association.
A researcher from UNLV is set to help measure the success of the initiative.
“We just want to give these kids a fair chance at being successful,” Morris Hibbler said.
A community meeting is planned early next year.
For more information or to participate in the initiative, visit nevadapartners.org or call 702-924-2100.
Contact North View reporter Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.