On May 28, a White House task force charged with reviewing existing federal initiatives affecting men and boys of color released an initial, 90-day report detailing recommendations that are heavily focused on evidence and data.
President Obama created the task force in February to develop recommendations and oversee the related initiative, called My Brother’s Keeper.
In its report, the task force recommended a broad, comprehensive cradle-to-college-and-career strategy, highlighting Promise Zones, Promise Neighborhoods, and other place-based and collective impact-based strategies as examples. As part of this strategy, it identified six “key milestones” along the continuum from early childhood to college and career:
- Entering school ready to learn
- Reading at grade level by third grade
- Graduating from high school ready for college and career
- Completing postsecondary education or training
- Successfully entering the workforce
- Reducing violence and providing a second chance
Working with the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, the task force recommended 43 indicators consistent with these six milestones for inclusion in an online “data dashboard” that will track outcomes for boys and young men of color. According to the report, this “What Works” online portal will be launched in the “coming months” and will also include “successful programs and practices.”
The task force will continue working with federal statistical agencies to make these and other relevant statistics available at the national level. The report also notes that the Promise Zones program is “developing an inventory of measurement initiatives that may be useful for individuals and communities interested in performing place-based data analysis.”
The bulk of the report is a broad overview of current federal activities and initiatives focused on the six milestones. To address them, it recommends an increased investment in evidence-based solutions. According to the report:
The Task Force examined existing “clearinghouses” and convened listening sessions to hear how existing research and evaluations are used by decision-makers and practitioners to understand best practices. This initial assessment of existing research has revealed four critical findings: (1) many studies lack conclusive findings about the impacts on specific populations; (2) many users lack awareness of and incentives to find and do what works; (3) significant gaps exist in evidence-based solutions due to the often prohibitive cost and complexity of evaluations; and (4) similar factors impede evaluation and funding of many small or community-based programs that have strong anecdotal results.
To address these problems, the report recommended an increased focus on initiatives with an evidence and outcomes-based orientation, identifying the Investing in Innovation (i3) program at the U.S. Department of Education as an example. It also recommended investment in “tools to enable even small- or low-resourced organizations to monitor and evaluate their performance.”
The task force is led by Jim Shelton, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education and executive director of the task force. Shelton previously served as the department’s assistant secretary for innovation and improvement, where he oversaw the i3 program.
- White House Releases Report on Women and Girls of Color (November 14, 2014)
- Social Innovation Fund Director to Lead ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Initiative (October 21, 2014)
- University of Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, et. al. Advancing the Success of Boys and Men of Color in Education (September 1, 2014)
- Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The Girls Obama Forgot (The New York Times, July 29, 2014)
- MDRC: Boosting the Life Chances of Young Men of Color: Evidence from Promising Programs (June 2014)