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My Brother's Keeper (MBK)

Speakers and facilitators pictured from top left to bottom right:
Cornelius Minor, Michael Smith, Principal Baruti Kafele, & Dr. Ronald Ferguson
See the speakers' bios here.

The 2019 MBK Symposium is an invitation-only event. If you are affiliated with NYSMBK but have not received an invitation and believe you have been overlooked, please email us at Put "2019 Symposium" in the subject line and provide a brief, two-sentence summary of your involvement in MBK in New York State.

Note to MBK Coordinators: 
All student attendees must return a photo and video release prior to the symposium. Please print the photo and video release form, then scan the signed form and send it to us by email

Breakout Sessions

First Session

OPTION 1: “The Basics”

Dr. Ronald Ferguson, Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, and Creator of the Boston Basics

There are five parenting principles that researcher Ronald Ferguson calls the "Boston Basics." They include: 1) Maximize love, and manage stress; 2) Talk, sing, and point; 3) Count, group, and compare; 4) Explore through movement and play; and 5) Read and discuss stories. The principles are designed for children between birth and age 3, the critical first years of life in which 80 percent of the brain's overall growth happens. Now, the Boston Basics Campaign is partnering with hospitals, community health centers, childcare providers, libraries and early learning centers across Boston. Professor Ferguson hopes that they can help close the achievement gap that already starts to emerge by the time a child is in kindergarten.


OPTION 2: “Is My MBK Program Better Because I Lead It?”

Principal Baruti Kafele, celebrated educator, author, and motivational speaker

Adapted from his latest best-selling self-reflection guide, Is my school a better school because I lead it? Baruti Kafele offers leaders thought-provoking questions to ponder from the fundamental overarching query: “Is my MBK program a better program because I lead it? Musing deeply on discrete leadership matters is an essential component of success for anybody overseeing the day-to-day operations of a program serving youth, and doubly so in underserved communities. Kafele offers those seeking to improve the quality of their programming hard-won wisdom on such critical issues as ensuring an optimal culture and climate, engaging in parent and community outreach, confirming emergency preparedness, rallying staff, and much more.

Second Session

OPTION 3: “Untapped Potential! It Does Not Have to be This Way: Promising Practices, Successful Schools and Young Men of Color”

PLC Associates, Inc.

This session will present comprehensive findings from ten successful high schools and two impressive districts who are winning in spite of narratives and beliefs to the contrary, proving that their student population, especially boys and young men of color (BYMOC), can not only achieve, but excel. Each of these schools has surpassed the state graduation rate for BYMOC and has demonstrated a three-year positive trajectory of improvement – a laudable accomplishment!

An expert-level team from PLC Associates, Inc., visited each of these schools and districts, conducting intensive interviews, focus forums, surveying, identifying Social-Emotional Developmental Health (SEDH) supports, assessing resource allocation, meeting with students, talking with families, examining data and “digging deep” to identify the key drivers of success. We will share these exciting findings with the field, along with the key trends we found, connected to leveraging such success.

Participants will have an opportunity to hear not only what these schools did to achieve such results…but also, how they did it. Guests from these schools and districts will be present and participating, as well. Our goal is to present clear and compelling content…so that all schools, especially those serving BYMOC, are positioned to achieve such extraordinary levels of success.


OPTION 4: “Educator… You Matter!”

Principal Baruti Kafele, celebrated educator, author, and motivational speaker

This empowering, introspective workshop takes educators on a self-reflective journey designed to challenge them to think deeply and critically about their current practices relative to how they inspire educational excellence. Educators will discover numerous ideas for strengthening their practice and investing in student success. This workshop is an indispensable must for educators who want to give their absolute best in schools, classrooms, and districts at all times and under all circumstances.

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My Brother's Keeper

In 2014, former President Barack Obama established the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Task Force at the federal level. The Task Force was an interagency effort focused on closing and eliminating the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color so that all young people have the chance to reach their full potential.

With the adoption of the 2016–2017 New York State Budget, New York became the first state to accept the President’s challenge and enacted the My Brother’s Keeper initiative into law. The budget included a $20 million investment in support of the initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.

The New York State My Brother’s Keeper Community Network includes more than 20 member communities that have joined the growing initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. Find out how to become a member of New York State My Brother's Keeper Community Network.

Recognized NYSMBK Communities

  1. Albany
  2. Brentwood
  3. Bronx
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Buffalo
  6. Dunkirk
  7. East Ramapo
  8. Greenburgh
  9. Hudson
  10. Ithaca
  11. Lyons
  12. Manhattan
  13. Mt. Vernon
  14. Newburgh Enlarged
  15. New Rochelle
  16. Ossining
  17. Poughkeepsie
  18. Queens
  19. Rochester
  20. Staten Island
  21. Syracuse
  22. White Plains
  23. Yonkers

National MBK Milestones

At the national level, MBK is focused on six milestones:

  1. Getting a Healthy Start and Entering School Ready to Learn
    All children should have a healthy start and enter school ready – cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally.
  2. Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade
    All children should be reading at grade level by age 8 – the age at which reading to learn becomes essential.
  3. Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career
    All youth should receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.
  4. Completing Postsecondary Education or Training
    Every American should have the option to attend postsecondary education and receive the education and training needed for the quality jobs of today and tomorrow.
  5. Successfully Entering the Workforce
    Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.
  6. Keeping Kids on Track and Giving Them Second Chances
    All youth and young adults should be safe from violent crime; and individuals who are confined should receive the education, training, and treatment they need for a second chance.


In addition to supporting the six milestones set at the national level, New York’s MBK initiative is also committed to: 

  1. Ensuring equitable access to high quality schools and programs;
  2. Expanding prevention, early warning, and intervention services;
  3. Using differentiated approaches based on need and culture;
  4. Responding to structural and institutional racism;
  5. Making comprehensive and coordinated support services widely available; and
  6. Engaging families and communities in a trusted and respectful way.

New York State My Brother's Keeper Report

This report commissioned by the New York State Education Department explores strategies to help boys and young men of color—and all students—realize their full potential. The report, New York State Education Department My Brother’s Keeper Guidance Document: Emerging Practices for Schools and Communities, provides an overview of the outcome trends among boys of color in K-12 school environments, and a research review of the most prevalent strategies currently being implemented in schools and communities across the country.

My Brother’s Keeper Native American Program (MBKNAP) Grant—$750,000

The purpose of the MBK Native American Program is to increase the academic achievement and college/career readiness of Native American students, with emphasis on boys and young men.

For additional information, please review the revised grant application documents:

My Brother’s Keeper Fellows Program (MBKFP) Grant—$250,000

The purpose of the MBK Fellows grant is to provide 11th grade high school students, with an emphasis on boys and young men of color, with opportunities to gain authentic leadership experience(s) and develop service projects beneficial to the schools they attend and the communities they live in. In 2018, the State Education Department announced the inaugural class of My Brother’s Keeper Fellows.

For additional information, please review the grant application documents:

My Brother’s Keeper Exemplary School Models and Practices (ESMP)—$2 Million

The State Education Department will award grants to districts that will develop and/or expand exemplary high quality college and career readiness school models, programs and practices that demonstrate cultural and linguistic responsiveness, that emphasize the needs of boys and young men of color.

Update 1/16/18: Deadline Extended! New applications are being accepted. All applications must be postmarked by February 7, 2018. For additional information, please review the revised grant application documents:

My Brother’s Keeper Challenge—$7 Million

The MBK Challenge Grant Program is designed to encourage regions and school districts to develop and execute coherent cradle-to-career college strategies that are aimed at improving the life outcomes for boys and young men of color and develop and sustain effective relationships with families toward the goal of success for all students. In 2016, NYSED awarded $7 million in grants to 40 school districts with an annual distribution for 3 years to work with community-based organizations and other groups to improve family engagement efforts in local communities. 

For additional information, please review the grant application documents:

Teacher Opportunity Corps II—$3 Million

The State Education Department seeks to invest in programs that bolster the retention of highly qualified individuals who value equity and reflect the diversity inside and outside of our classrooms, particularly in high-need schools with recurrent teacher shortages. 

Successful grantee programs will incorporate proven strategies for teacher retention and best practice, such as mentors for new teachers and differentiated instructional techniques.

Office of Family and Community Engagement—$8 Million

The State Education Department was awarded $2 million to create a new office that will develop statewide policy and offer school districts best practices for communicating with families and local communities. 

SED will award $6 million in grants for school districts, community-based organizations, and other groups to improve family engagement efforts in local communities. 

These efforts might include parent advocacy and/or creating outreach material in home languages so families can learn how to enhance school success for their children beginning at the earliest ages through high school and beyond.


Blue Ribbon Committee

In 2015, the New York State Board of Regents convened a Blue Ribbon Committee consisting of state, regional and national experts including practitioners representing education Pre K-20, community based organizations, youth development, health, elected officials, and state-wide professional organizations. The committee was charged with examining the educational challenges and opportunities boys and young men of color face on a daily basis and to recommend strategies to address the challenges and expand opportunities to increase their educational successes.

List of Blue Ribbon Committee Members

For more information on Grant Opportunities and MBK in NYS, email:






The NYSMBK logo is a multiracial image of a male at different stages of development. The triple image is designed to represent the anticipated and expected progress and growth of boys and young men of color in New York State, as a result of the MBK initiative.

Guidelines for Logo Use

  • The NYSMBK logo may not be used to endorse any commercial product or service, nor may the logo be used in advertising or in any manner that could give rise to the appearance of endorsement.
  • The NYSMBK logo may only be used in connection with distribution of information about the New York State My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, as found on the NYSMBK website. Any other uses are unauthorized.