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2023 My Brother's Keeper Symposium


The New York State Education Department (NYSED) hosted the 2023 New York State My Brother’s Keeper (NYSMBK) Symposium on May 19 in Albany. Hundreds of students, parents, educational leaders, advocates, and experts from across the nation came together for the annual symposium on My Brother’s Keeper, the initiative to help boys and young men of color—and all students—realize their full potential. The event featured nationally renowned guest speakers and student and educator panels.

NYSED also named the sixth class of the My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Fellows. Each Fellow will be matched with a mentor from a NYSMBK Community Network partner and given a fellowship opportunity.

Student Breakout Sessions

Not Impossible / I'm Possible: What's possible for you?
Academic Excellence, College and Career Readiness, Social Emotional Learning and Stamina, Leadership, and the Power of Reflecting, Protecting and Connecting 
Keith L. Brown - Mr. I’m Possible
Meeting Room – Swyer Theater
2:00 - 3:30 PM

This presentation will focus on academic excellence, college and career readiness, social emotional learning and stamina, leadership, and the power of reflecting, protecting, and connecting. Upon completion of Mr. Brown’s presentation, attendees will have a blueprint of the following:

  1. Advocating for oneself by learning how to communicate effectively and connect with colleges and universities, building relationships while still in high school, as well as procuring career readiness skills through connections with local stakeholders, for the purpose of closing the opportunity gap.
  2. Reversing negative stereotypes and toxic masculinity, which condemn young men of color for showing their human side, i.e., “real men don’t cry,” and other negative messages that dehumanize young men of color, all of which lead to mental health issues.
  3. Implementing a culture of caring that teaches young males of color to reflect the potential they possess, protect, and support their fellow brothers and connect with each other and mentors to continue building a positive present and future, where young men don’t just survive, but instead thrive.

Students on Stage
Swyer Theater
3:30 – 4:00 PM

Symposium attendees will share their MBK insights and experiences.

Adult Breakout Sessions

The Transformational Power of Stories to Change Students’ Lives
Pam Allyn and Bryan Collier

Meeting Room 1
2:00 - 3:30 PM

Join two renowned author-education leaders and literacy powerhouses for an inspiring and informative session on how you can use the power of stories to create a strengths-based community of belonging for all your students and how to raise literacy levels and build a strategy for success in helping your students become lifelong learners. Featuring two extraordinary leaders who have dedicated their life work to wrapping the power of story around learning and lifelong literacy, this session will support you as education leaders to create powerful outcomes in your work, in your district and in ensuring deep and authentic learning and connection for students, families and teachers.

The Basics: Going Statewide
Dr. Ronald Ferguson
Meeting Room 2
2:00 - 3:30 PM

What infants, toddlers, and preschoolers experience during the first five years of life is fundamentally important for learning and brain development - brain architecture takes shape during this period. The Basics Strategy is an approach that whole communities can use to take advantage of the unique opportunities that the early years of life present. This session will discuss how local coalitions can support learning and brain development during the first five years of life using The Basics Principles and Strategy. In this workshop, you will learn to implement this in your community and how NYSMBK intends to support this work statewide. Dr. Ferguson will review the science behind The Basics Principles and discuss how multiple types of institutions can provide parents and other caregivers with key information, relational support, and reminders. Join more than four dozen communities in the US and abroad who have joined the Basics Learning Network (BLN) and are bringing The Basics tools and approach to their communities to help infants and children enter school ready to learn.

Panel Discussion: Growing Up Latino - What I Wish My School District Knew About Me & Lessons for School Leaders
Dr. Ray Sanchez, Dr. David Mauricio, and Mr. Anibal Soler
Meeting Room 3

2:00 - 3:30 PM

In this interactive workshop, we hear from students and adults from the Latino/Hispanic communities, successful in their own rights, about their experiences in schooling as Latino/Hispanic students. Workshop participants will hear about both the tremendous support they received and the missed opportunities that they experienced as students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Participants will also share their respective assets that schools might have used advantageously to help them thrive as students.

NYSMBK Evaluation: Impacts and Outcomes
Dr. Michelle Fine, Dr. Maria Torre, Jordan Bell, and CUNY Graduate Research Staff
Meeting Room 4
2:00 - 3:30 PM

Since 2016, the New York State Education Department has invested nearly $100,000,000 in the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. While there are anecdotal success stories, it was imperative that a full 5-year evaluation of this initiative take place, relying upon both qualitative and quantitative indicators of impact. Dr. Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY and Visiting Professor at the University of South Africa, and her team spent much of 2022 researching the impact of My Brother’s Keeper in New York State. During this work session, the CUNY Graduate Research Team will share the results of their mixed method findings, answering the following questions:

  1. What are the outcomes reached to date, 2017 - 2022, both academic and non-academic, for the boys and young men of color who have participated in the New York State MBK program?
  2. What further opportunities might be available for past and future MBK participants?
  3. What are the lessons learned at each New York MBK program site selected?
  4. How can NYSED best utilize its State Aid-to-Localities funding that supports the MBK Initiative so it can make more strategic investments going forward?

Learning in a Burning House: Why We Need the Archeology of Self
Dr. Sonya Douglass and Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz
Meeting Room 5
2:00 - 3:30 PM

Based on her book, Learning in a Burning House, Dr. Sonya Douglass offers a historical look at the desegregation dilemma with clear recommendations for what must be done to ensure Black and other Students of Color have success in today's schools. Dr. Douglas provides a critical analysis of how racism has undermined the integration ideal and the subsequent schooling of Black children. This workshop explains and gives examples of how meaningful education reform must be grounded in a moral activist vision of equal education through a cross-racial commitment to racial literacy, realism, reconstruction, and reconciliation in our schools and society.

To assist workshop participants to prepare themselves for the work of engaging and empowering all students and constituents to improve the educational places, spaces, and paradigms in school communities, Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz will use her book, Advancing Racial Literacies in Teacher Education: Activism for Equity in Digital Spaces. Building from the scholarship of Dr. Douglass, Dr. Sealey-Ruiz will assist participants to engage in the necessary personal reflection about their racial beliefs and practices, which impact their day-to-day decisions about what they say, what they teach, and how they interact with students from diverse backgrounds.

Networking and Conversations
Convention Hall
3:30 – 4:00 PM

Meet new people and share what you have learned.

Monday, July 17, 2023

New York State My Brother's Keeper (MBK) students explain what the MBK program means to them and how it has transformed their lives.More