Brother’s Keeper Starts with Community Summit – Joanna Brody

mybrotherskeeper-300x93On Thursday, November 13th, Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells hosted an inaugural Local Action Summit of community leaders at West Los Angeles College to discuss the White House’s “My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge”. The MBK Challenge, issued to cities, rural counties and tribes around the country by President Obama and the White House, is a collective effort to eliminate opportunity gaps, barriers and challenges facing youth in our community, including boys and young men of color, to ensure that all young people are positioned to succeed.

Community leaders lay the groundwork for an MBK Community with four steps:
Accept the President’s Challenge
Convene a “Local Action Summit” to build an MBK Community
Conduct a policy review and form recommendations for action
Launch a plan of action, next steps and a timetable for review

Mayor Sahli-Wells officially accepted the Challenge in September. “When I got the call from the White House, asking if I would accept President Obama’s Community Challenge, I realized the goals of this challenge are firmly in line with my own desire to make Culver City the best city in which to raise children in the U.S.,” said Mayor Sahli-Wells. “They are also aligned with the goals of the Culver City Compact, a public declaration signed by the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD), City Officials, the Chamber of Commerce and key stakeholders setting out a ‘vision and commitment for a highly collaborative, responsive and innovative educational system that ensures every child succeeds before, during and after high school.’”

The November 13th Local Action Summit was Mayor Sahli-Wells’ 2nd step of the challenge. Nearly 30 Culver City community leaders attended the summit including West Los Angeles College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh; City Manager John Nachbar, Police Chief Scott Bixby, Assistant Chief Chris Gutierrez and several deputy police officers, Fire Chief Dave White; CCUSD School Board President Laura Chardiet; CCUSD’s Director School & Family Support Services Assistant Director of Child Welfare and Attendance Drew Sotelo; Upward Bound House Founding Board Member Booker Pearson; Joy Masha, Education Deputy for State Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-26); Michelle Renée, Ph.D., Principal Associate and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, and many community activists and volunteers.

During the Summit, the group discussed the initial goals set out by President Obama’s Challenge, and agreed that Culver City would focus on two and added a third goal unique to the city:
1) To ensure all Culver City children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready.
2) To ensure all CCUSD students graduate high school.
3) To ensure that no Culver City child is homeless.

“The first steps to achieving these goals are to assess the challenges faced by Culver City residents, identify the local resources that already exist to mitigate these challenges, and determine benchmarks to measure success,” said Mayor Sahli-Wells. The group discussed the many Culver City resources that are place already to support these goals, including the Culver Needs Committee, which helps to identify and support CCUSD students in need; Upward Bound House whose mission is to eliminate homelessness among families with children by providing housing, supportive services & advocacy, the Teen Center, and Culver City Police Department’s Young Explorer’s Program.

“Now that we’ve convened our committee and held our Local Action Summit, we can prepare for Step 3 of My Brother’s Keeper Challenge,” added Mayor Sahli-Wells, “which is to conduct a policy review and form recommendations for action.” Many of the Local Action Summit committee members are taking on specific tasks.

More than 100 Mayors Leaders all over the country were early adopters of the initiative; and Culver City is one of xx a dozen municipalities and tribal nations in Southern California that is participating in My Brother’s Keeper.
In September 2014, President Obama issued a challenge to cities, towns, counties and tribes across the country to become “MBK Communities.” This challenge represents a call to action for all members of our communities, and mayors in particular, as they often sit at the intersection of many of the vital forces and structural components needed to enact sustainable change through policy, programs, and partnerships. The MBK Community Challenge encourages communities (cities, rural municipalities, and tribal nations) to implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of all young people to ensure that they can reach their full potential, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they are born. For more information, visit


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