What Is I Am My Brother’s Keeper?

In February of 2014, President Barack Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to address overwhelming and persistent disparities in opportunity faced by boys and young men of color. The President called for collective action, stating that “broadening the horizons for our young men and giving them the tools they need to succeed will require a sustained effort from all of us.”

Why Franklin County?

Like the nation, Franklin County and the Columbus community have struggled to expand and secure pathways to opportunity for boys and men of color. Our community reflects the systematic and structural challenges facing communities nationwide.

Targeted investments connecting young boys and men of color with pathways to opportunity can equip them with the tools needed to strive for more than just survival. In an attempt to secure these investments, Anthony Trotman, Director of Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services, set-forth to implement a program that would provide the tools, resources and support needed for success.

Who We Serve

I Am My Brother’s Keeper seeks to provide structure, support and enriched experiences to boys of color between the ages of 9–15, who reside in either South or East Side neighborhoods of Columbus, Ohio.

More specifically, the ideal participant is one who appears to have become deeply impacted by their life circumstances and, as a result of such, demonstrates one or more of the following indicators:

  • Behavioral challenges in and out of school
  • Trouble succeeding academically
  • Struggles to interact positively within the family dynamic
  • Decreased interest in high-school graduation or long-term achievement

Quick Facts

  • 50–75 Boys Served
  • Fall & Spring Programming
  • Year-Round Engagement
  • 10 Week Sessions: 8 Weeks at Experiential Learning Sites 2 Weeks at Ohio State
  • Placed-Based
  • Experiential Skill Development

Our Model

To maximize the impact had on each child, I Am My Brother’s Keeper employs a collective impact, asset-based approach, which involves a triangulation of the resources already available in each community. In connecting local community assets such as non-profit organizations, churches, businesses and civic associations, we are able to strengthen the network and support system for every boy residing in that specific area, in addition to providing him with new learning and personal development experiences.

Progress Through G.R.O.W.T.H.


In addition to collective impact, I Am My Brother’s Keeper has implemented a unique G.R.O.W.T.H. model, meant to represent the characteristics each participant will have the opportunity to develop.

Academic Success

I Am My Brother’s Keeper is committed to the academic success of every participant. In addition to after-school engagement, this committment is highlighted through the implementation of bi-weekly study sessions.

These two-hour sessions take place at The Ohio State University, and include one hour of homework help and one hour of engaged activity meant to encourage character development. In additon to program staff, volunteers are present from various departments and organizations on campus to assist with study and offer both exciting and informative programming.

Columbus Urban League

As part of I Am My Brother’s Keeper, participants and their families are welcome to a host of services offered by The Columbus Urban Leauge. Some include:

  • At-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college than those who did not have a mentor (76 percent versus 56 percent).
  • Youth in informal mentoring relationships commonly offer that their mentors provided developmental, more than academic, support. These mentors conveyed advice and encouragement to help them make good decisions, taught young adults how to make the right decisions and follow the right path and become motivated.

Engaging Families

Given that a child’s health and success depend on the stability and health of the entire family, I Am My Brother’s Keeper is committed to providing support services for participants, their families and their home environments. Parents and family members will be invited to engage in complementary development programs and encouraged to take advantage of other services such as legal aid consultations and health care screenings. By providing programming and services specific to personal, financial and professional growth, parents and family members will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully accompany the boys on the pathway to increased opportunity.

Holistic Health

Physical health and mental wellness are key components to one’s personal, academic and career success. Furthermore, research shows that boys and men of color suffer disproportionately from a number of diseases and health conditions, as compared to their White counterparts. In partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I Am My Brother’s Keeper will provide free health screenings to all program participants. Additionally, through the use of licensed social workers and Directions for Youth, a local non-profit organization that provides counseling for troubled families and youth, our program will work closely with participants to address issues that are negatively impacting their behavior and mental wellness.


  • 67% of students experienced an increase in overall performance scores from Learning Circle
  • 70% experienced increase in attendance or maintained near perfect attendance scores
  • 85% of students experienced an increase in behavior scores or maintained near perfect behavioral outcomes in school
  • 59% of students experienced an increase in core academic scores, and another 11% of students maintained core academic scores above 60
  • The average learning circle performance index score for IAMBK youth increased by 28% and the median performance index score for the MTMBK IAMBK increased by 32%

My Brother's Keeper Staff

Ashley Wilson

As the Outreach and Engagement Manager for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ashley utilizes strategic planning, project management and sustainable relationship-building to effectively advance the missions of the Institute, as well as key university and community stakeholders. As the co-director of I Am My Brother’s Keeper, Ashley develops and directs the program’s central components to ensure IAMBK is fulfilling its mission to provide opportunity and support to boys of color residing on the South Side of the city. Ashley has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism (specialization in Public Relations) from Bowling Green State University, and is currently undertaking post-graduate study at The Ohio State University.

Kelsey Hopkins

Kelsey is a Student Program Assistant for the I Am My Brother’s Keeper program. A native of the Columbus, Ohio area, Kelsey graduated from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana in 2015 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Communications. Upon returning to Columbus she enrolled in The Ohio State University and is currently a dual Master’s student studying Public Affairs and Social Work with a focus on Community and Social Justice. She has a passion for furthering the development of youth and communities through programs and policy and is looking forward to applying what she is learning throughout her studies during her time with the Kirwan Institute and I Am My Brother’s Keeper.

Annalisa Perez

Annalisa Perez is a program assistant from Cleveland, Ohio. She received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Ohio State University. Annalisa coordinates and facilitates Experiential Learning programming for I Am My Brother's Keeper as well as doing mentoring and program development coordination in South Side Columbus City Schools as a part of the community engagement team.

Clarence Jackson

Clarence is a research assistant from Dayton, OH. He attended Bowling Green State University where he graduated with a degree from the College of Human Development and Family Studies and taught as a service learning instructor. For I Am My Brother’s Keeper, he acts as a scholastic liaison working between the schools, the university, and the kids to make sure they have the resources they needs for a good education. He is also a member of the community engagement team, and works directly with students and their families on a weekly basis.


Phone: (614) 247-1633
Email: MTMBKColumbus@yahoo.com
Twitter: @MTMBK_Columbus
Facebook: More Than My Brother’s Keeper - Columbus

Supported By:

  • Columbus Urban League
  • Franklin County Board of Commissioners
  • Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services

Service Partners:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Columbus
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio
  • Community Development for All People
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Barack Recreation Center

Get Involved!

Fill out an application to become a mentor for More Than My Brother's Keeper

Online Mentor Application