Baltimore, Ferguson, and Black Lives Matter have thrust the nation into a long overdue discussion about race and inequity. We must all work hard to ensure that this moment leads to action and change. Finally correcting America’s long history of racial inequality will require commitments from every sector of society. If we act to fully include all, our democracy will be stronger and our nation will stand as a moral beacon for the world. The nation’s economy will also improve.
Had more attention been paid to closing our nation’s racial gaps in income and employment, the U.S. could realize $2.1 trillion in additional GDP every year, according to data from the National Equity Atlas—created by PolicyLink and PERE (Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California). Every region in the country would be financially stronger with racial inclusion, with estimated metro GDP gains ranging from $287 million to $510 billion per year. As the U.S. population becomes a majority people of color, failure to close income gaps will continue to be a drag on the economy.
Is it any wonder, then, that American business leaders are joining forces to build upon one of President Obama’s signature efforts: My Brother’s Keeper?
The MBK Alliance was announced today and its creation puts business solidly in the picture. With $80 million committed so far, MBK Alliance is an independent nonprofit created to advance progress in the private sector by developing a system of support to help boys and young men of color recognize their full potential through strategic evidence-based interventions. America’s businesses are needed as full partners to connect young people of color to resources that are so essential for success.
President Obama created My Brother’s Keeper to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to help all young people reach their full potential. PolicyLink has been engaged with the White House MBK Initiative since its announcement nearly two years ago. We have also worked on other Administration place based programs—such as Promise Neighborhoods, Promise Zones, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, and Choice Neighborhoods, among others. Like those programs, MBK has the potential to improve the lives of millions of boys and men of color as well as girls and women, if the programs are fully financed, scaled, and continued long enough to succeed. We’ll assist the work of the Alliance by being a social enterprise partner and a member of its advisory council.
The nation is at a crossroads: we can continue the same policies and practices that stifle potential and limit horizons for huge portions of the population. Or, we can harness the energy of the private, public, and social sectors to ensure that all people, especially the most vulnerable, can learn, grow, and contribute—for themselves, their families and communities, and the economic growth and well-being of the nation.
The MBK Alliance is choosing the path that leads to a strong nation for all. We applaud the effort and wish it much success.
For more details about the MBK Alliance, please visit www.mbkalliance.org