April 23, 2015
Contact: Ashley Simmons, Office of the Mayor                
704-336-3438 or 704-614-9116                                                                          

CHARLOTTE, NC — Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter brought several mentoring agencies together Wednesday to discuss strategies for working with local youth as part of the city’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative.
Representatives from 26 agencies also heard from Elias Alcantara, Associate Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, who was in Charlotte for the Career Discovery Day event hosted by the city for high school students.

Alcantara discussed the launch of the MBK community challenge, designed to help local governments review activities in their communities and engage private/public partners in a dialogue on how to address issues impacting young people. Nearly 200 communities have taken on the challenge.

Charlotte signing on to the MBK challenge was announced last year, after Mayor Clodfelter completed an initial assessment of what was happening in the community toward MBK goals.  

“This approach was very intentional to ensure MBK could effectively be used as a tool in the tool box for our whole community to access when implementing comprehensive cradle-to-college-and-career strategies for improving the life outcomes of all young people with particular focus on African American males,” said Clodfelter. “This cannot be done by a single entity, it truly takes a village.”

Michelle Thomas, Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs with Microsoft, encouraged mentoring agencies to research companies’ values and reach out to connect to funding opportunities and other support.

“It’s important to tap into the business community to champion these efforts,” said Thomas. “The Mayor’s Youth Employment Program (MYEP) does an excellent job of connecting to businesses. Companies want to help, but they also need to know who you are.” 

Hamani Fisher, co-founder of the Acts of Real Kindness (ARK) Network, a partner with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, said agencies need to develop incentives for collaboration.

“We need to empower small organizations to convene in a way that brings people and resources together in order to better serve youth and their families in our community,” said Fisher. “It must be comprehensive and we have to be creative in closing the gaps.”

The two goals of Charlotte’s MBK initiative focus on 1) ensuring all children read at grade level by 3rd grade and 2) ensuring all youth out of school are employed. Much of the discussion Wednesday centered on employment opportunities for students while in high school and upon graduation. The group also discussed data-driven strategies and ways to set baseline measures with corresponding target goals.

To follow activities of agencies supporting My Brother’s Keeper in Charlotte, search for #MBKCLT on social media, or contact Holly Eskridge, Assistant to the Mayor, 704.336.4332 or