As a community, Pittsburgh is facing a staggering opportunity gap that keeps a large portion of young people of color from taking part in our city’s ongoing transformation. As reported in the My Brother’s Keeper Playbook, Pittsburgh Public Schools finds that 30% of their students fail to graduate and never acquire the necessary preparation skills to contribute to the workforce. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for black teenagers is 24.8%.

At the same time, Code.org reports that Pennsylvania alone has more than 17,000 open computing jobs, but only about 2,820 computer science graduates. More than half of projected jobs in STEM fields are in computing, making it one of the most sought after degrees by employers, but relatively few men of color are working toward computer science degrees.

Without taking concrete steps to prepare young people of color for rewarding careers in growing fields, Pittsburgh’s opportunity gap will only continue to grow.

Sprout is honored to join the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County in the next phase of the ongoing My Brother’s Keeper initiative to close the opportunity gap for young people of color in the Pittsburgh region. Through the generous support of the Heinz Endowments, Sprout will work in partnership with the City and County to identify and employ a project manager, engage a planning consultant, and make grants totaling $100,000 to seed implementation projects that enhance access to learning experiences that connect young people of color to career opportunities in technology.

The project builds on efforts by the City, County, and a committee representing academia, the clergy, community groups, and school partners that led to the release of the local MBK Playbook in October 2015, which recommended several strategies to achieve social and economic equity.

Specifically, the overall goals of the project are to:

  • Increase equity and access to educational opportunities that cultivate digital literacy skills connected to future employment for historically disadvantaged populations.
  • Cultivate a community of practice among educators and youth workers so that they can deliver relevant programming and high-quality instruction to youth of color.
  • Empower local My Brother’s Keeper staff necessary to coordinate all the activities related to the achieving the goals laid out in the local My Brother’s Keeper Playbook.

This local version President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative is committed to ensuring that young people of color achieve academic proficiency in skills related to local economic opportunities so that all residents of the Pittsburgh region, especially young men of color, are able to benefit from the region’s growth.

How It Will Work

Throughout the fall of 2016, community stakeholders will meet to identify needs and gaps in out-of-school educational programming, marshal existing resources, and collect local and national best practices. This process will result in recommendations for specific programs for youth, training necessary to build the capacity of educators and mentors, and capital improvements or technology acquisitions necessary to better equip youth centers.

Sprout will then make grants totaling $100,000 to fund pilot implementation projects that advance community recommendations to provide high-quality learning experiences in technology, digital literacy, and workforce readiness for young people of color during the first six months of 2017.

Throughout the entire process, a new project manager will work with My Brother’s Keeper committee members and partner organizations to create measurable objectives, create an evaluation plan, and issue an annual report to the community.

Community members interested in participating in or staying informed about progress on My Brother’s Keeper in Pittsburgh are encouraged to sign up to receive updates by completing this form.

Requests for Proposals Issued to Build My Brother’s Keeper Team in Pittsburgh

To build the team that will support this work over the next year, we’ve issued two Requests for Proposals:

  • Community & Stakeholder Planning Consultant to design and lead the community and stakeholder planning process and to prepare the initial recommendations that result from these discussions.
  • Project Manager to provide the ongoing project management for the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and act as a liaison between and coordinator of participating organizations, including the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.
Visit sproutfund.org/mybrotherskeeper to see full details on these opportunities and instructions for submitting a proposal no later than 5:00pm on Friday, August 5, 2016.