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Arnold Perkins of The Brotherhood of Elders with an attendee

On a beautiful Friday evening, you might expect that jammed-packed venues in downtown Oakland would be neighborhood pubs and trendy restaurants. But on one Friday night recently, 120 people crowded the James Irvine Conference Center at the East Bay Community Foundation to standing-room-only status to hear about “My Brother’s Keeper,” a new initiative designed to galvanize leading foundations, businesses and government agencies to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color across the U.S. President Obama signed the Memorandum establishing a My Brother’s Keeper Task Force in February.

The East Bay Community Foundation and one of its donor-circle funds, The Brotherhood of Elders, sponsored the meeting to discuss details of My Brother’s Keeper. Chet Hewitt, CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation, and Cedric Brown, Managing Partner of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, shared their experiences attending the signing of the executive order that launched the initiative.

Keynote Speaker: Pedro Noguera

Keynote Speaker Pedro Noguera


Pedro Noguera, PHD, the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and expert on school reform and the achievement gap, was the keynote speaker.

President Obama charged leaders gathered at the White House to join forces with the federal government and the philanthropic sectors over a 90-day period to assess existing programs and strategize how to augment good works and synthesize information on what’s working and what’s not. Ten foundations across the country have each pledged $750,000 to My Brother’s Keeper over the next three years.

Young men from the Office of Neighborhood Safety in Richmond attended

Young men from the Office of Neighborhood Safety in Richmond attended

Key points from speakers and overheard in informal conversations:

“We must look at what’s working across the nation…look at Eagle Academy… look at what is going on in Tulsa — there is a major focus on boys of color focus there that is getting results.”
“Examples of what’s working must be evidence based.”
“We must address the problem of educating boys of color more holistically—focus on academics alone is not the answer. The child has to be socially and emotionally sound to get the best results.”
“We must change the narrative—from a deficit description of the problem to a description of solutions even in our own dialogue.”

The Brotherhood of Elders is a group of 50 African American males in the Bay area pooling their dollars in a “donor circle” that aims to improve outcomes for African American men and boys through their charitable fund at the East Bay Community Foundation. The Brotherhood of Elders is the only donor circle of African American males in California and one of only two west of the Mississippi. For more information about the Brotherhood of Elders, please contact Carolyn Doelling, Director of Philanthropic Services at EBCF, at If you would like to make a donation to the Brotherhood of Elders, please click here.