My Brother’s Keeper

President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

In 2015, Montgomery County accepted the President’s MBK community challenge  and formed the MBK committee, comprising public and private agency members as well as community and student leaders. The Collaboration Council is proud to serve as coordinator for this body.

In January 2015, County Executive Isiah Leggett accepted the President’s “MBK Community Challenge.” Leggett called for citizens across various sectors to work with community partners, youth, and young adults in Montgomery County to design and implement an action plan to help youth of color. The Collaboration Council answered that call and spearheaded the movement by taking the lead for the local MBK initiative. The Collaboration Council’s Social Justice Director convened a committee of citizens from multiple sectors, both public and private.

Convening Partners
The committee boasts representation and participation from public agencies such as the County Executive’s office, the Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County Police Department, Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery County Recreation Department, the Public Information Office, and the Office of Community Partnerships. Many youth-serving, community-based organizations are represented as well, including YMCA Youth and Family Services, Identity, the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), Pride Youth Services, and Lead4Life.

In April 2016, the MBK committee hosted a “Day of Action” at Clifton Park Baptist Church in Silver Spring. Speakers included MCCC member Nancy Navarro and Michael Smith, former Senior Advisor to President Obama. They spoke about the importance of uplifting communities and youth of color while ensuring their pathways to success are unencumbered by policies or practices within the systems with which they interact as they reach adulthood. More than 100 people attended the conference, participating in sessions covering topics such as the interaction of youth and law enforcement, student engagement, disparities for LGBTQ+ youth of color, and youth alternatives to violence.

The MBK has developed four affinity groups: student engagement, LGBTQ+ youth, youth and law enforcement, and parent engagement committees. These groups have met numerous times to craft and hone their action steps and advocacy efforts. This past October, the high school-age chairs of two of these sub-committees debriefed MCCC’s Health and Human Services and Education committees on their efforts and work to date.

  • The student engagement committee has facilitated student-focused and -led conversations at local high schools on issues of racism, sexism, and the need for safe spaces for students of color.
  • The MCPD chair of the youth and law enforcement committee has facilitated ongoing dialogues between youth and MCPD law enforcement officers, as well as MCPD-sponsored flag football games and ongoing activities wit students at two local high schools.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities

The Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) Committee is composed of various youth-serving system stakeholders tasked with addressing disparities in treatment and outcomes for youth of color. The committee reviews and analyzes policies, practices, and programs with a mission to ensure parity for youth of color.

The Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Reduction Committee is working to address disparities for youth of color in the juvenile justice system by looking at legislation, policies, decision-making, and resource gaps that can have negative effects on outcomes for youth.

Convening Partners: 

Montgomery County Police Department, State’s Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender, Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, Juvenile Court, Montgomery County Public Schools, Department of Health and Human Services, Youth Service Providers, Faith Community, Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Office, Maryland Park Police, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, Commission on Juvenile Justice, and Every Mind, Inc.

Black Breastfeeding Week

Communities across the country are working to increase breastfeeding rates among Black women. Mamatoto Village in Washington D.C., and Chocolate Milk Mommies in Birmingham, AL, are working to normalize breastfeeding for Black mothers.

Black Breastfeeding Week is held annually from August 25 – 31 to increase awareness about the racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. Due to social, cultural and historical inequities, Black women are known to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation rates and shortest breastfeeding duration.

Babies Born Healthy Montgomery County celebrated #BlackBreastfeedingWeek 2002 by hosting a free community event: “Building Our Village: Creating Continuity of Care and Creating Trust” on August 27, 2022.

Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for most babies and any mother who chooses to breastfeed should be supported in her decision! According to the CDC, breastfeeding can result in increased infant survival and can help to protect babies against some short and long term health conditions.

Learn more by visiting this CDC page about why breastfeeding matters.

African American infant mortality rates are 2- 3 times higher than infant mortality rates among Non-Hispanic Whites. Due in large part to health inequities, Black infants are disproportionately born too small, too sick or too soon. The CDC reports that increased breastfeeding among black women could decrease infant mortality by as much as 50% because breastmilk provides the immunities needed and nutritional benefits.

While breastfeeding is natural, some mothers may experience difficulty and need support, understanding, and education. Doulas who are trained in breastfeeding and incorporate family-centered and culturally relevant strategies into their services can help mothers become more successful with breastfeeding after birth. The Black Doula Project is committed to increasing awareness and supporting Black women during their maternal journey. Click Here for more information.

Conservation Corps

  • 81% Program Completion Rate- 26 of the young people initially enrolled completed program
  • 3 youth earned their GED passing all 4 GED section
  • 7 youth completed an additional combined 22 sections of the GED sections putting the section completion rate at 78% for those 7 young people
  • 15 Corps Members earned OSHA-10 Certifications
  • 4 Corps Members Earned EPA Watershed Management Certification
  • 9 Corps Members Earned American Traffic Safety Associations Flagger Training Certifications
  • Corps Members Maintained over 25,000 sq ft of M-NCCP and Montgomery County land through invasive species removal, weeding, and restoration.
  • Corp Members loaded, planted and potted 850 trees and saplings