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Experiential Learning Program for African American Boys Kicks-Off on the Citys Southside

By Ashley Wilson | Communications Coordinator, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Edited by Alex Rostorfer
On September 10 2014, friends, families, and representatives from a wide range of industries gathered
to celebrate the launch of More Than My Brothers Keeper, an innovative pilot program for African
American boys funded through Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services (FCDJFS).
What is it?
As its name indicates, More Than My Brothers Keeper takes inspiration from the My Brothers Keeper
Initiative, launched nationally by President Obama in February of 2014. Franklin County is beginning to
come to terms with the overwhelming breadth and scope of the disparities faced by young boys and
men of color. The poverty rate for the two zip codes within the programs geographic boundaries (43206
& 43207) is at 59% for African American male adolescents (ages 6-14). Additionally, these areas
experience a disproportionately high amount of the countys overall rate of gun violence and homicides
by firearm. If anywhere is primed for an investment in its people, it is here in Columbus, Ohio.
The 15-month program and curriculum is designed to affect the long-term trajectory of these young
men through a series of immersive and capacity-building experiences. The programs family engagement
component recognizes that the success of these boys is, in many ways, contingent upon their families
ability to navigate through and around a multiplex of structural and systemic challenges. Extension of
services and programming to the entire family is a key feature of this pilot program.
From the Director of FCDJFS
In response to this state of need, Anthony Trotman, Director of Franklin County Job and Family Services,
committed himself to creating the program that would give new opportunities to these young men.
I am proud to have obtained the support of the Franklin County Commissioners to pursue this exciting
new initiative, More Than My Brothers Keeper. Through my engagement in the community, particularly
with young African-American males, Ive seen first-hand the challenges they face. This program will
equip them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to successfully navigate these challenges,
and achieve their hopes, dreams and aspirations, said Trotman.
What the Program Does
As a pilot program, More Than My Brothers Keeper seeks to connect 35 African American boys (ages 1014) residing in the Southside of Columbus to interactive experiences with both social and life skills as
well as positive examples of black male success that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to be
exposed to. The following organizations, businesses and institutions have committed themselves to
partnering with the program:

Nationwide Childrens Hospital

Browsers Welcome
iResolve Fitness
Bikes 4 All People
Learning Circle Education Services
The Ohio State University

Under the direction of program partners, the boys will spend their weekdays in after-school
programming, and every Saturday they will report for experiential learning workshops, with guided
journaling activities to follow.
Short & Long-term Goals

The boys feel like theyre the lucky ones to be in this


The programs short-term goals include
project, and in many ways theyre right. Weve been
maintaining a high level of engagement and
working hard to develop dynamic and exciting 15interaction with the boys and their families,
months worth of programming for them. On the
successful delivery of educational and
other hand though, those of us who serve as
motivational activities that will build their
stewards of the program are just as lucky. The
cognitive, social and life skills, as well as
brilliance of these boys is constantly on display. Well
connect them to the many positive examples
learn as much from them as they will learn from us.
and assets that exist in our community. Longterm, partners hope to see improved academic Serving as Director for this program is truly an
and personal development in the boys, as well honor.
as connections and confidence that will lead
them in the direction of high school graduation and continued success. Outside of the direct
impact on boys, success of this initiative strengthens the likelihood of replication in other
Columbus communities, in other cities around the nation, and for other demographics in need
of such attention.
For more information about More Than My Brothers Keeper, or if interested in volunteering, mentoring
or submitting an applicant for participation, please contact Program Director Charles Noble at
cnoble.99@gmail.com or visit www.kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/mybrotherskeeper.