The My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative was launched by President Barack Obama to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. The Pittsburgh-Allegheny County version of MBK is committed to ensuring that young people of color in the Pittsburgh region achieve academic proficiency in skills that prepare them for local economic opportunities so that all residents of the region, especially young men of color, are able to benefit from the region’s growth.
With support from the Heinz Endowments, The Sprout Fund is joining the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to launch the MBK Digital Literacy Pathways to Employment Project that will develop a community plan, fund pilot implementation projects, and build the capacity of youth-serving organizations to provide technological, social, and academic learning opportunities that help young people of color secure future employment.
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 young people 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 My Brother’s Keeper Playbook.
Representatives from the City, County, MBK Committee, and The Sprout Fund reviewed proposals and selected five partnerships to launch the MBK Digital Literacy Collaborative in 2017. Each of the 10 partner organizations received an initial $5,000 grant to support their participation in in the Digital Literacy Collaborative and an additional $50,000 will be made available by Sprout to support pilot projects that emerge from the Digital Literacy Collaborative and integrate 21st century skills into established out-of-school time programs.
Members of the Digital Literacy Collaborative will work together over the remainder of 2017 to build capacity for effective programming in digital literacy, develop partnerships that leverage diverse organizational strengths to maximize collective impact, and make capital investments in technology, equipment, and space improvements that support program implementation.
Supported partnerships include:
- Center of Life & New Century Careers are partnering to develop effective marketing, recruiting, and precision machine skills training that is relevant to the needs of the Hazelwood community.
- The Lighthouse Project at YMCA Homewood-Brushton & CCAC Homewood are partnering to host digital media courses for college credit, reducing barriers to college enrollment, and providing ongoing mentorship for youth in Homewood.
- Focus on Renewal Ryan Arts Center & AIU Alternative Education Program are partnering to further develop STEM opportunities, enhance 21st Century skills, and provide career exploration support for youth in McKees Rocks.
- Brothers and Sisters Emerging & Computer Reach are partnering to provide new and expanded digital lab facilities, computer literacy training, and mentorship for youth and families in Garfield.
- Will Allen Foundation & Junior Achievement are partnering to increase access to technology and promote digital-based entrepreneurship in City and County neighborhoods.
The Digital Literacy Collaborative builds on efforts by the county, city and a committee representing academia, faith leaders, community groups, and school partners that led to the release of the local MBK Playbook in October 2015, as well as the findings and recommendations of the My Brother’s Keeper Community & Stakeholder Planning Process, a report issued by the UrbanKind Institute in January 2017, both of which recommend strategies to achieve social and economic equity in the region.