My Brother’s Keeper initiative subject of new Discovery/OWN special

Jeff Pfeiffer

President Barack Obama will appear in a new Discovery Channel/OWN special that looks at the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative, the principles of which include ensuring all youth complete their post-secondary education and training and are employed once they’re out of school.


Titled Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper, and appropriately airing on Father’s Day, June 21, the program explores the lives and families of boys and young men of color from four programs around the U.S. that are living the principles of the MBK initiative. The film, directed by Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army), also addresses President Obama’s challenge to cities and towns to encourage coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategies for improving the life outcomes of all young people, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they were born.

“As President Obama has made abundantly clear, now more than ever we need to change the narrative in this country around boys and young men of color,” said John Hoffman, Executive Vice President of Documentaries and Specials for Discovery Channel. “Dawn Porter’s artful storytelling serves as a powerful testament to the vital importance that strong communities, involved families, and dedicated educators all play in ensuring that all of our children have an equal chance at success.”

The following programs will be featured in Rise. Info from Discovery Channel:

Urban Prep Academies: Operates a network of all-boys public schools including the country’s first charter high school for boys. A Chicago-based group, Urban Prep’s mission is to provide a high-quality and comprehensive college-preparatory educational experience to young men that results in their graduates succeeding in college. In the last four years, every graduate of Urban Prep has secured admission to a four-year college or university.

Halstead Academy of Arts and Science: Located in Baltimore County, this program fulfills the MBK mission by preparing students for academic success and for life beyond school, as they remain dedicated to creating a culture that fosters and promotes excellence by delivering a comprehensive, quality program that adapts to the needs of students and their families by providing a safe and engaging learning environment with high expectations for all. Currently, African American students at Halstead significantly outperform their peers at comparable schools in both math and reading.

The Yuba/Sutter program of YouthBuild in rural northern CA unleashes the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, family, and community. At YouthBuild, low-income young people learn construction skills through building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their neighborhoods and other community assets such as schools, playgrounds, and community centers. 75% of the Yuba/Sutter YouthBuild graduates enroll in college or find meaningful employment.

Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) is a dropout- and violence-prevention program for at-risk male students in grades 7-12 that offers in-school programming to develop social-cognitive skills strongly correlated with reductions in violent and anti-social behavior. Participants learn about and practice impulse control, reading social cues and interpreting intentions of others, raising aspirations for the future and developing a sense of personal responsibility and integrity. A 2011 University of Chicago Crime Lab randomized controlled study revealed that B.A.M. reduces violent crime arrests and weapons crime by 44%, and increases school achievement and graduation rates by up to 23%. The program currently serves 2,000 young men of color in 43 Chicago public schools.

Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper is simulcast June 21 at 7pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.


President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Dawn Porter for Discovery Channel at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, N.J., May 18, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)