My Brother’s Keeper


Obama Launches New Initiative For Young Black Men

President Obama announced a new initiative at the White House today called “My Brother’s Keeper,” which asks business and civic leaders to look for and invest in ways to empower young black men. The New York Times reports that several high-profile foundations have committed $200 million over the next five years to the effort, focusing especially on “early-childhood development, educational opportunities, school readiness and discipline, parenting, and the criminal justice system.”

The initiative is likely the start of a lifelong cause for the President and the First Lady, according to several of his closest advisers. “I’m sure their commitment to this initiative will be a lifelong commitment,” said Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest friends from Chicago. Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, agreed: “This is core to who they are individually and core to who they are together.”

Yet another aide recalled a story from Father’s Day 2013 when Obama was presented with a Father’s Day card from a group of Chicago teenagers visiting the White House.

“I never signed a Father’s Day card before,” one explained as Obama opened the card. “I’ve never signed a Father’s Day card, either,” Obama replied.

Over at ThinkProgress, Bryce Covert goes into detail about why this initiative is so important. Here are just a few of the reasons:

1. Black students experience an educational achievement gap that grows.

A combination of a lack of high-quality preschool and other factors means that an achievement gap between black children and white children starts when they are as young as nine months old. But it gets bigger and bigger:

Chart3CREDIT: The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution

2. A huge number of black teenagers are unemployed.

The unemployment rate among black teenagers is 38 percent — down from nearly 50 percent at the peak of the recession, but still far above the 7 percent rate for entire population.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 10.29.45 AM

3. Even those who are employed make less.

Jobs that are over-represented by black men earn more than $13,000 less per year than jobs that are under-represented by black men.

uploadCREDIT: Economic Policy Institute

For other ideas how the president and Congress can help young black men, check out this piece from Vanessa Cardenas, one of our Center for American Progress colleagues, HERE.


Group Health drops Abortion coverage … We need a vote on RPA

At least one Washington state insurance plan has dropped abortion coverage, denying a woman the freedom and privacy to make her own pregnancy decisions. Without the Reproductive Parity Act, we could lose access to safe medical care. Please allow a Senate vote on the RPA and protect all of a woman’s legal pregnancy options!

Sign the petition!                   

There could be slaves in the supply chain of your chocolate, smartphone and sushi


By Tim Fernholz @timfernholz October 19, 2013

Forced labor is a reality, and you might be using products made by workers who had no choice in the matter.

 The first edition of Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation, an anti-slavery NGO, estimates that there are 30 million slaves in the world—and more than half of them are in prominent emerging markets like India, China, and Russia. 

Modern slavery, as the index defines it, includes all kinds of forced labor, ranging from hereditary bondage in Mauritania, which has the largest slave population per capita in the world, to forced sexual exploitation, including the arranged marriage of minors. Most of the countries where slaves make up a significant slice of the population have a cultural tradition of bonded labor, like Haiti’s restavek system of indentured servitude for children (which can be an innocent way for families to help each other out, the report says, but is often abused).


But the largest form of forced labor is in private industry, where about two-thirds of people working in slave conditions—usually forced or bonded labor—are found. That’s why this new effort to measure global slavery exists: It’s part of a campaign funded by the chairman of one of the world’s largest miners, Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals Group, who wants companies to eliminate slavery from their supply chains. As global trade has led firms to source materials and labor from ever more far-flung locales, it has become easier for them to turn a blind eye to who makes their products. Here are just a few examples:

  •  This summer, an Australian man imprisoned in China reported that prisoners were making headphones for global airlines like Qantas and British Airways. Some 300,000 sets of the disposable headphones were made by uncompensated prisoners who were forced to work without pay and regularly beaten. The index says that there are about 3 million slaves in China, in state-run forced labor camps, at private industrial firms making electronics and designer bags, and in the brick-making industry.
  • Companies like Apple, Boeing and Intel—among thousands of others—have been under pressure to document that the tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold they use aren’t being mined by slaves in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a civil war has led armed groups seeking funding to force civilians to work. The US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule forcing American firms to trace the minerals they use to their origins, and while business lobbies have sued to overturn it, industry leaders have begun planning to file the first required reports in May 2014.
  • In the Asian seafood industry, migrant workers may become forced laborers who harvest and prepare mackerel, shrimp and squid bound for markets around the world.
  • Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading supplier of cocoa—some 40% of the global supply—and much of it is grown and harvested by some children engaged in forced labor. In 2010, Côte d’Ivoire said 30,000 children worked on cocoa farms, although Walk Free’s index estimates as many as 600,000 to 800,000. While this has been widely reported on since 2000, and the global response has been strong, compared to that of other allegations of forced labor, the problem has not really been solved. As of 2012, 97% of the country’s farmers have not participated in industry-sponsored campaigns against forced child labor. Mondelēz International, the world’s largest chocolate producer, which owns brands such as Milka, Toblerone and Cadbury, has struggled for years to take forced labor out of its supply chain. It committed $400 million to a program aimed at creating a sustainable cocoa economy last year, but its efforts have been ineffective so far.

Many of the countries in the map above are not party to international human trafficking treaties or simply don’t enforce them. Many of the companies that use labor in those places have weak supply-chain policies in place. The goal of Forrest’s group, inspired by Bill Gates’ data-centric philanthropy, is to make slavery easy to quantify, and thereby pressure international companies not to put up with it.

Drought and its Effects on Your Family

                                                                      Photo: flickr/kecko

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities in California providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. Thinking that drought isn’t having an impact on your family? Consider your food supply, drinking water and the fuel to the spread of fire.


A brighter future

                          No Kid Hungry                          Aubrey and Foster seem like typical kids.

Aubrey, a seventh grader, is a brilliant musician with a stunning voice. Foster is in the first grade and has an uncharacteristic tenderness for his age.

What you can’t see behind their bright smiles and fun dispositions is that their family is struggling with hunger.

I’m writing you today so that we can ensure that Aubrey and Foster’s futures remain bright.

You see, before their parents split up, they lived in a large, comfortable home in Denver without needing to worry about food. As a working mother, I know how challenging and worrying it can be to raise two active children. Now that Aubrey and Foster’s mom, Natasha, is left with the heavy responsibility of supporting her children on her own, she is struggling to provide Aubrey and Foster with the food essential to their success. She finally had to face the fact that she had to seek help and was relieved to find support through their school meals program.

What I want you to understand about Aubrey and Foster’s story is that school meals — breakfast and lunch — bridge a gap in their family, ensuring the kids have all the food they need to succeed.

That’s why we’re turning to No Kid Hungry team members like you.

                                                   Join Now

Please help feed hungry kids like Aubrey and Foster by giving to No Kid Hungry today.

No Kid Hungry is working across all 50 states to make sure kids like Aubrey and Foster are connected to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals. And we’re also making sure that working parents like Natasha are empowered to stretch their food budget so their kids get healthy meals at home. This work starts with you — today.
Please show your support with a gift to No Kid Hungry. I’m grateful for all that you do to create bright futures for hungry kids like Aubrey and Foster.

Lindsey Spindle Photo
Lindsey Spindle
Chief Communications & Brand Officer