UT helps launch White House mentoring program in Toledo | UToledo News

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UT helps launch White House mentoring program in Toledo

The University of Toledo helped launch the White House mentoring program called My Brother’s Keeper in Toledo that will prepare local students for college and career readiness.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Michael D. Smith, special assistant to the president and senior director of cabinet affairs for My Brother’s Keeper at the White House, organized a kickoff event Sept. 23 at Waite High School that included UT President Sharon L. Gaber, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Willie McKether, and Rocky and Rocksy supporting the initiative.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, left, and Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion, posed for a photo at the My Brother’s Keeper kickoff event at Waite High School.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, left, and Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion, posed for a photo at the My Brother’s Keeper kickoff event at Waite High School.

“I cannot think of a better cause than one that focuses on saving our boys and young men,” said McKether, who helped lead the effort to launch the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Toledo. “I grew up without a father and understand the challenges of not having a strong man in my life during my formative years. I feel honored to be associated with this critically important initiative.”

The local My Brother’s Keeper initiative will connect male students of color with community leaders through mentoring relationships and educational events. It is aligned with the national initiative that works to ensure all youth receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.

“Ohio is losing future doctors, engineers, teachers and entrepreneurs because of an opportunity gap,” Brown said. “My Brother’s Keeper is about building strong children, who will grow into the leaders of the future, and who won’t be bound by a society that has too often been set up to hold them back.”

“We’re thrilled to see Toledo step up and commit to the goals of My Brother’s Keeper,” Smith said. “Toledo is one of nearly 250 communities nationwide that have accepted the MBK Community Challenge and are working tirelessly to tackle inequity and expand opportunity for our children in greatest need.”

In September 2014, President Obama issued a challenge to cities across the country to become “MBK Communities” to implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of all young people to ensure that they can reach their full potential, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they are born.

The six goals of the challenge are ensuring all youth:

• Enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready;

• Read at grade level by third grade;

• Graduate from high school;

• Complete postsecondary education or training;

• Have a job once out of school; and

• Remain safe from violent crime.

UT is among the community leaders organizing the local initiative with McKether serving in a chairperson role. Now that the challenge has been accepted in Toledo, he is working on a plan to build the local My Brother’s Keeper community of mentors and mentees.

The next step toward establishing a local chapter requires McKether to convene a community meeting to establish mentorship priorities for Toledo.

For more information on the Toledo My Brother’s Keeper initiative, visit utoledo.edu/diversity/brothers-keeper.

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