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.

Joshua Bates

Joshua Bates is Social Policy Analyst at the Kirwan Institute for the study of Race and Ethnicity. His research is focused on urban poverty, juvenile justice issues, community trauma, and program evaluation. Furthermore, Joshua works as Outreach Coordinator for I Am My Brother’s Keeper (IAMBK). Within this capacity, he both presents nationally on IAMBK and builds relationships with other programs that engage with youth of color. Joshua works diligently to change lives on the national, local, and individual level.

Bree Stack

Bree is a fourth year undergraduate student from Shaker Heights, Ohio and has been an intern with I Am My Brother’s Keeper since October of 2015. She is engaged with many aspects of the IAMBK program including research and facilitation of Saturday programming. Bree is studying Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability and minoring in City and Regional Planning. Upon graduation in May, she hopes to pursue a career in advocacy work related to local policy issues.

Shawna Deems

Shawna is a licensed social worker (LSW), currently assisting with the I Am My Brother’s Keeper program at Kirwan. As a Patient Navigator with OSUCCC-The James, Shawna helps to address barriers to care for community members and patients. Prior to this, Shawna served as a Health Education Specialist in the Republic of Moldova with the U.S. Peace Corps, and provided direct patient care in behavioral health with Harding hospital at OSU. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from The Ohio State University in 2009 and is currently working to complete a Master’s degree in Social Work.

Sylvie Durlacher

Sylvie Durlacher is a second year student from Long Island, New York studying Middle Childhood Education with a minor in Spanish and Leadership Studies. At Ohio State she works with I Am My Brother’s Keeper as a Student Intern, working closely with both the programming and family engagement team. Sylvie truly enjoyed helping implement an educational enrichment opportunity for IAMBK participants and is excited to continue working with this incredible program. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Educational Policy.

Michael Northern

Michael is a research assistant at the Kirwan Institute, who helps facilitate the I Am My Brother’s Keeper program. Michael graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s of Arts and Science in 2011. Michael enjoys mentoring young men in both professional and non-professional environments. Through the IAMBK program, Michael hopes to create a positive bond amongst the boys that they can harness to impact their communities. He plans to open up a martial arts facility that focuses on building young men into leaders, and having a role in the community that they live.

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