JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - President Barack Obama announced an initiative for young men of color Thursday.
The initiative, called My Brother's Keeper, is a collaborative effort between business and community leaders to close the achievement gap and improve the lives of minority men.
My Brother's Keeper will suggest improvements to federal policies, regulations, and programs that affect young African-American men.
The group will invest at least $200 million, over the next five years towards this initiative.
Pastor John Guns, founder of the youth mentoring group Operation Save Our Sons, is proud to see Obama take on the new project.
"For me personally, I was enthralled. I was excited and it motivates me to keep pushing and moving forward," said Guns.
Guns currently mentors 19 young men of color in Jacksonville, including JaQuade Miller. Miller is one of the young people arrested after the Christmas Day Melee in River City Market Place and is now working toward finishing school and going to college.
"One of the things that we do in our program is that every young man has to create a vision board. They are presenting this tonight. The vision board is their statement; this is where I believe my life can go. So when the president talked about the future and taking responsibility I appreciated that it was a balanced message," said Guns. "You don't simply provide them money but you also provide them inspiration and that is what we see in this young man and what we see in all of our young men."
My Brother's Keeper was started after the Obama administration saw a significant need in the percentages of young boys whose education was not up to par.
According to the Obama Administration, 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys are reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade, compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels.
Minority men are more than six times as likely to be victims of homicide than their white peers and account for almost half of the country's homicide victims each year.
"I think when we all come together and become partners, we will all see the success that we all desire," said Gunn.
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