An association of African-American leaders recently challenged the White House on one of the requirements of its “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, a new program aimed at promoting opportunity for young men of color, saying the revised requirement would bar virtually all Black organizations from participating.
The White House initiative is a “collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach” to creating a path to success for young Black men through mentorship and community engagement, and is housed under the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
When he first announced the program in February, President Obama said that organizations would need to have an “active presence” in 30 states to obtain a federal grant to support the program, according to Politic365.com. However, in a request for proposal issue in early April, the Justice Department upped that number to 45 states.
In an April 28 letter to the Department of Justice, 100 Black Men of America President Michael Brown claimed that the revised number would bar his organization, the venerable National Urban League, and virtually every other Black association except the NAACP from participation, The Root reported.
“As a national organization with a presence in thirty-plus states, we were indeed pleased to see that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention had finally extended an opportunity for historically excluded opportunities to fully participate in the national funding opportunities available,” Brown wrote.
“Unfortunately our jubilation was short lived, as your office’s revised RFP of April 10, 2014, quickly quelled any hopes we had of enriching and expanding the services we currently provide for the children that we serve.”
In the wake of that letter, Justice officials met with the group, and appeared to resolve the issue.
“A prompt meeting with Department of Justice representatives addressed our concern and provided a path forward that is satisfactory to us,” 100 Black Men of America Chairman Curley M. Dossman said in a statement to The Root. “We also found that our concern was not related to My Brother’s Keeper which is still moving forward. Therefore, we believe this matter has been resolved and we will have no further comment on it.”
Curley did not specify the manner in which the group’s concerns were addressed, or whether the Justice Department would alter the requirement.