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Atlantic and Leading Foundations Recommend Collective Action to Advance Opportunity for Young Men of Color

Resource type: News

The Atlantic Philanthropies |

Download the report (PDF)

New York, NY – The Atlantic Philanthropies joined 10 of the nation’s leading foundations today in releasing a report, “A Time for Action: Mobilizing Philanthropic Support for Boys and Young Men of Color” outlining recommendations for coordinated action and funding across the public and private sector to dismantle barriers and create opportunities for young men of color. 

The report was produced in parallel with the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, announced in February. The report identifies four key sectors – health, education, employment and justice – that include roadblocks to the success of the nation’s young men. It outlines the following strategies to overcome those obstacles: promoting youth leadership and empowering young men to lead change in their own communities; advancing an accurate and positive narrative about boys and young men of color and changing harmful stereotypes; mobilizing people, policies and institutions at the community level to facilitate “place-based” support for young people; and expanding the use of data and research to foster innovations and promote the most effective solutions.

Atlantic is part of several funding partnerships announced in the report, including coordinated efforts to:

  • Create safe, supportive and engaging learning environments in all schools, by accelerating efforts to reduce suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests and juvenile court referrals in elementary and secondary public schools and pre-school settings. Joined by The California Endowment, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this collective investment is intended to spur further efforts by the public and private sectors to reduce racial disparities in discipline and to promote holistic and data-driven strategies to improve the climate for learning in schools. It will also include an infusion of resources from Atlantic as part of its final grants to support grassroots organizing and advocacy for policy change, and to promote systems reform to create safe, engaging and academically rigorous environments for learning.
  • Rethink justice for young adults by reforming systems to dramatically reduce racial and ethnic disparities in, and the use of, confinement for young men, and to support the kinds of comprehensive reforms needed to reach impactful results. This is a collaborative effort with The Annie E. Casey Foundations, The California Endowment, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
  • Elevate new narratives for boys and men of color that affirm the value of all human beings.  In partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The California Endowment, Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Open Society Foundations, this effort will work with print, broadcast and social media, as well as professional associations of journalists, writers, publishers, editors and producers and also support research and opportunities to engage boys and men of color in affirming and creating positive narratives of their own.

“This is an occasion for Atlantic and our philanthropic partners to align our work to maximize the impact of our historical and future collective funding to improve access to opportunities for young people to succeed, and dismantle barriers that disproportionately hinder communities of color,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies. “By making big bets in a coordinated way, we can respond more effectively and with urgency to achieve lasting and sustainable improvements in the lives all of young people who are unfairly disadvantaged.”

“Atlantic views school discipline reform as essential to removing the barriers that constrain boys and young men of color from accessing opportunities and achieving their full potential,” said Kavitha Mediratta, head of Atlantic’s Racial Equity grantmaking. “We are gratified by the White House’s inclusion of reforming school disciplinary practices within My Brother’s Keeper’s priorities, and look forward to working with federal agencies and others in the public and private sector to help make changes that will give all young people a better chance at success.”

Atlantic’s partnerships outlined in “A Time for Action” build on the foundation’s more than $200 million in funding for efforts to address racial disparities in life opportunities and outcomes and to set a positive trajectory for all children and adolescents, including boys and young men of color in the U.S.’s most disadvantaged communities. In addition to supporting the reform of discriminatory school discipline practices, Atlantic supports efforts to reduce racial disparities and disproportionate impact in the educational and judicial systems and to expand community schools and access to health care for disadvantaged children. 

Atlantic is a limited life foundation and will complete grantmaking by 2016. The coordinated efforts outlined in “A Time for Action” will draw from the foundation’s commitment of $30 million in 2014 to improving school discipline policies and criminal justice practices. An additional $40 million is earmarked to improve the pathways to opportunity for vulnerable people, including boys and men of color, through full-service community schools, greater access to high-quality health care and improved income security.

Learn More

> Joint announcement on “A Time for Action: Mobilizing Philanthropic Support for Boys and Young Men of Color” (PDF)

> “A Time for Action” report (PDF)

> The White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report (PDF)

For media inquiries, please contact:
Katie Butterfield, (646) 289-7660

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic is a limited life foundation that will complete grantmaking in 2016. To learn more, please visit: