My Brother's Keeper

On November 17, 2014, City of Compton Mayor, Aja Brown held a press conference to announce Compton's acceptance of President Obama’s, My Brother's Keeper Initiative. Following the announcement, Mayor Brown hosted the first MBK Local Action Summit where over 200 non-profits, community organizations, and regional leaders gathered to share ideas, collaborate, and set a plan for advancing opportunities for young men and boys of color in the City of Compton. The day was filled with testimonials from young men who have overcome obstacles with the help of mentors, community programs and family support.

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As a result of the Local Action Convening and the most prominent issues facing the community, the City of Compton adopted three core foci: safety, education and workforce development. The goals included a reduction in homicides, which disproportionately affected African American males; establish a City funded Gang Intervention and Prevention program; expand enrichment programs focused on literacy, education, and entrepreneurship; and provide exposure and internship opportunities for Compton youth.

To address the safety issues in the City that stemmed from gang violence, Mayor Brown convened over 60 ex-gang members from rivalry neighbors to call for peace and community collaboration in an effort to create a safer community for Compton youth to thrive. Out of that convening, Compton Empowered was created, a community initiative focused on empowering community members to take back their neighborhoods through employment, leadership development, and life skills training. To date, over 30 ex-gang members have completed a series of leadership development courses and 13 have been hired to participate in the City funded Gang Intervention Program as community interventionists. Since the establishment of Compton Empowered, there has been a decrease in homicides of nearly 50% from 2014 to 2015 and a series of community unity events that have been instrumental in maintaining neighborhood truces and communication.

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In partnership with the Office of LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress, the City of Compton hosted a Law Enforcement and Youth Dialogue with 30 young men of color and various local law enforcement officers, to confront tensions surrounding the perceptions and relationships within the community and the need to cultivate conversations and personal relationships to shift the dialogue to a place of understanding and partnership.

In an effort to promote education and employment among Compton Youth, Mayor Brown hosted the Summer Leadership Academy where 40 high school students of color, equally represented by both males and females, spent six weeks developing leadership skills with a host of professors, community leaders and activities and also participated in exposure opportunities that included trips to local community colleges, surrounding universities, banking institutions, and the port of Long Beach to name a few. In 2014, Mayor Brown also worked with local men to launch the Young Men of Compton Seed Program, a mentorship curriculum targeted towards young men of middle school age who did not have positive male role models. The program has graduated 25 young men who have drastically improved their grades, behavior and have maintained relationships with their mentors over the past two years.

To address our 3rd milestone, ensuring all children read at grade level by 3rd grade, Mayor Brown partnered with the Children's Defense Fund and Read Lead to establish a Compton Freedom School. A national 6-week, free summer literacy program that incorporates culturally relevant curriculum and programs to support and enhance summer reading. The 2015 program hosted over 70 students of color ranging from pre-school to 8th grade.

As we maintain our fervent commitment to all of our Compton youth, our future MBK efforts include continuing our partnership with the Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, hosting a 2016 Summer MBK Summit with 100 boys and men of color, a summer Compton Unified School District reading challenge, the launch of a Saturday Science Academy and Young Men’s Leadership Development program, as well as continuing our Compton Freedom School.