Latino Boys, Men In Need of Mentoring to Fight Odds

Image: President Obama
U.S. President Barack ObamaAlex Wong / Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

President Barack Obama was given get a list of ways to tackle education, poverty, incarceration and other problems seen among young men and boys of color, but there’s one job he’ll task to the American people handle: mentoring.

The president met with his Cabinet today to discuss the report delivered by his My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, launched in late February. It was assembled after the task force held discussions around the country with various individuals working on issued faced by young men and boys of color.

“As we approach Father’s Day, I’m just reminded that I am only here because a bunch of folks invested in me,” Obama said. “I want to make sure that I use this platform and every Cabinet member wants to make sure they use the tools they’ve got, so that these young men and boys, know somebody cares about them, somebody is thinking about them, and that they can succeed.”

The report contains initial general recommendations and sets a blueprint for action by the government, business, non-profit, philanthropic, faith and community groups and leaders.

Obama said more there would be a rollout in coming weeks of specific commitments made by private industry and groups partnering on the initiative. He'll be helped in the campaign by former NBA star and businessman Magic Johnson.

But an action the president wants Americans to take right away is to sign up at to be long-term mentors to young people.

According to findings of the task force, roughly one-third of Latino children and two-thirds of African-American children live with only one parent. Research suggests a father’s absence increases the risk of children dropping out by 96 percent for Hispanics and 75 percent for black children.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, senior White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz said language barriers and immigration issues and children’s lack of English skills in early years contribute to some of the troubling statistics for Laitno men and boys.

“While we hear from stakeholders that Latinos require specific approaches for success in mentoring, this is one of the things we will be seeking data about in order to support strategies that work,” she said.

Another area of focus will be on summer jobs. “Already we’re seeing, I think, much greater sense of urgency this summer about putting these young people in opportunities where they can learn basic skills that they’re going to need to get attached to the labor market,” Obama said.