By Jill Barshay
Since former President Barack Obama launched his My Brother’s Keeper initiative in 2014 to support black and Latino boys and young men, nearly 250 communities across 50 states have launched programs under its umbrella. But although these programs have increased in popularity and spent an estimated $1.6 billion in donations and loans, little is known about how well these support programs accomplish their objectives of raising academic achievement, keeping boys of color in school and helping more go to college.
The first rigorous evaluation of one of the larger programs came out in October 2019 and found some promising results. Stanford University researchers studied a special class expressly for black teenage boys in Oakland, California, called the Manhood Development Program. They found that black boys were less likely to drop out of high school if the class was offered at their school compared to black boys at schools where it wasn’t offered. In a high school with 60 black boys in ninth grade, only three students dropped out, on average, instead of five students in schools that didn’t offer the course.