By Debbie Holmes, WOSU Public Media,
Just over two years after President Obama kicked off My Brother’s Keeper, an effort to mentor young men of color, Ohio State University will begin studying how well the program works in central Ohio and how it can improve.
Columbus City Council member Shannon Hardin has worked to develop some city programs that target the goals of My Brother’s Keeper. He says the city polled 500 young people in 2015 about what they felt the community needed – including mentors and job opportunities. A recent study done by the city looked at the local data behind those issues.
“What we’re trying to do is to find evidence-based, data-driven solutions to issues that have plagued our community for many, many years,” Hardin says.
Now that the city knows what challenges it has, Hardin says, the Ohio State review will help Columbus identify the best ways to go about addressing them.
“We mean this work of My Brother’s Keeper,” Hardin says. “We as a community need to say,’ This is how we’re going to do it. This is how we’re going to hold ourselves accountable.'”
Hardin talked to WOSU’s Debbie Holmes about the program and where it’s headed next.
Debbie Holmes: So the effort My Brother’s Keeper is kind of being reassessed at this moment. You’re still looking for what you eventually want to do.
Shannon Hardin: It’s been a long process of engagement, making sure that we have been collecting information and really figuring out how we turn a ship that has not been created overnight. And so what we’re trying to do is to find evidence-based, data-driven solutions to issues that have plagued our community for many, many years.
Debbie Holmes: What does that mean?
Shannon Hardin: One of the things that the Youth Perspective Report did in 2015 was established that young people in our community – again, we talked to 500 young men of color – they said that they needed mentors. Well, that’s a great statement. But for us to really address that statement we need to actually know where we are as a community as it pertains to mentorship. Are we getting enough male mentors? Are there enough organizations that serve mentors? Are there barriers to why we can’t get those mentors?
The research that we have funded in the last month or so, we’ll work with Kirwan Institute [for the Study of Race and Ethnicity] to set those assessments, find out what the baseline data says about mentorship and then give us recommendations for, as a community, how we can solve that.