Accepting the Challenge

Pittsburgh-Allegheny County MBK Playbook

City and County accepted President's Obama MBK Community Challenge by:

  • Convening a local MBK Summit on October 31, 2014 at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) inviting over a hundred of Pittsburgh’s leaders.
  • Established the MBK Committee to write the playbook for providing more opportunities to boys and young men of color in the region.

To read the full report of the MBK Playbook, click here.

To learn more about My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, please read the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report.

White House National MBK Goals:

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  • All of our children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally prepared.
  • All of our children read at grade level by third grade.
  • All of our young people graduate from high school.
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  • All of our young people complete post­secondary education or training.
  • All of our youth who have graduated from college or a training program are employed.
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  • All of our young people are safe from violent crime, and those who need it, receive the second chance they deserve.

View the Action Steps and Leads for each of the six MBK Goals:

All of our children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally prepared.
  • Research, both longitudinal and current, indicates that participation in quality preschool programs yields both academic and economic benefits for our communities.
  • Complementing the value of quality preschool experiences is the fact that play is a critical element in the developmental process.
  • Social determinants, including poverty, have been consistently linked to adverse birth and early childhood outcomes.
  • Of the 224 regulated providers involved in the Keystone Stars programs, only 30 providers in the City of Pittsburgh are rated as High Quality Stars 3 or 4 (out of a possible 4) which translates into only 6.4% or 969 children being served in quality settings . From the County perspective, 98 of 358 or 12.4% of the providers enrolled in the Keystone Stars program are rated quality providers.

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Action Steps Leads
Increasing the number of children that attend Quality pre-schools as determined by the PA Keystone Stars System -Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC)
Supporting parental engagement in early childhood centers through the expansion of the use of the “Message from Me” application. -Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC) and Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab
Expanding enrollment in Women Infant and Children (WIC) programs -Allegheny County Department of Health
Ensuring all children are immunized -Allegheny County Department of Health
Expand healthy meals to children involved in after school programs -City of Pittsburgh, Department of Parks and Recreation
All of our children read at grade level by third grade.
  • In Pittsburgh Public Schools, fewer than half of the students who missed at least 10 percent of kindergarten days earned scores of proficient or higher on the third grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) reading test, compared to 74 percent of third grade students who had attended kindergarten more often. "it was also cited that";
  • Students with involvement in the human services system were at particular risk of having high absenteeism rates, accounting for 58 percent of students who missed at least 20 percent of school days.
  • Students who were active in the mental health and/or child welfare systems, and/or who were receiving public benefits, were the most likely to miss at least 10 percent of school days .(Allegheny County Department of Human Services, June 2013)

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Action Steps Leads
Through the process of data sharing, offering independent evaluation to assist schools and agencies to increase school attendance -Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Implementing the “Be There” program in all 43 school districts in Allegheny county -United Way of Allegheny County
Increasing the distribution of age-appropriate books to children at 110 summer food site locations -Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Increasing use of Children’s Books in print and online for children from kindergarten through third grade -Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
All of our young people complete post-secondary education or training.
  • 3% of black students achieved a proficient this rating as compared to 70% of white students in reading; math scores recorded 51% for black students and 78% for white students in Pittsburgh Public Schools on Standardized tests
  • Of the 216 teenagers (age 13-17) that were placed in care by the Department of Human Services in 2014, 90% had a placement in congregate care.
  • A recent study of mentoring’s effect on higher risk youth suggests that those youth in quality matches reported fewer depressive symptoms, greater acceptance by their peers, more positive beliefs about their ability to succeed in school, and better grades in school (Herrera et al, 2013).

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Action Steps Leads
Expanding youth input and empowering youth voices by forming teams and training youth to lead initiatives such as Students in Action Teams, Black Student Unions and other student-driven efforts -Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Great Public Schools, and The Jefferson Awards Foundation
Increasing the number of youth that feel “cared for” by recruiting more mentors of color for our young men of color -The Pittsburgh Keepers of the Community Collaborative: BMe Pittsburgh and Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA
Recruiting foster families for teens, particularly teens of color, in the communities where they live to reduce congregate care and ensure neighborhood and school stability -Allegheny County Department of Human Services
All of our young people complete post-secondary education or training
  • The disparity of graduation rates of African American students as compared to white students remains at 12%
  • Over 23% of households do not have internet access, according to the US Census Bureau.

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Action Steps Leads
Increasing the percentage of students that receive the Promise Scholarship -Pittsburgh Promise
Engaging in community focus groups with young boys and men of color to identify perception, needs and ideas regarding higher education preparedness, supports, access and success, preferably in pre-K - 12 setting

Focusing specifically on high school counselors on supporting, advocating and preparing young boys and men of color to successfully access and graduate from higher education institutions.

Educating parents and students about the benefits of a college degree via outreach and workshops in the community and within a pre-K – 12 environment
-Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education
Developing a spatial analysis and mapping of free wifi hotspots -Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation
Increasing public wireless internet accessibility in communities through public locations -Pittsburgh Roadmap for inclusive innovation
All of our youth who have graduated from college or a training program are employed
  • Despite the economic vitality of the region, in which approximately 25,000 workers are needed to support our local economy, the Pittsburgh metropolitan region has the lowest percentage of African American, Hispanic and Asian workers.
  • Additionally, in June 2014, Pittsburgh Public Schools reported 30% of their students fail to graduate and never acquire the necessary work preparation skills to enter the workforce. In 2014, the City of Pittsburgh’s crime rates were four to five times higher for males and four times higher for females, during the summer months of June to August as compared to the month of May.

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Action Steps Leads
Expanding the number of youth served by the Learn and Earn Summer Youth Employment Program especially in jobs related to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) -City of Pittsburgh, County of Allegheny and Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (TRWIB
Establishing strong linkages with Career and Technical Certification programs and post-secondary institutions to workforce development programming with career pathways and labor market demand -Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and the Tech Hire initiative
Increase the number of youth acquiring “digital badges” in competencies related to the local economy -Sprout Fund
Expanding opportunities to be financially literate involving understanding of the banking and mortgage systems -Neighborhood Allies
Implementing the Responsible Banking Initiative to incentivize banks to invest in communities of need -City of Pittsburgh
Identifying, promoting and filling the gaps of local E-commerce tutoring and mentorships aimed at small business owners -Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation
Supporting existing small-business mentorship programs to connect established companies with smaller businesses, newer businesses, or even potential clients to provide guidance when starting a new venture -Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation
Implementing the responsible banking initiative by incentivizing banks to invest in low-income communities by only depositing City funds in those financial institutions -City of Pittsburgh
All of our young people are safe from violent crime, and, those who need it, receive the second chance they deserve
  • According to the Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey, rates of property (15%) and violent crime victimization (2%) reported in the survey were similar to recent national benchmarks (though slightly higher)….Males and younger residents were more likely to report being property crime victims, while African Americans and City of Pittsburgh residents were more likely to report being violent crime victims.
  • The CDC reported that approximately 26% of American children will be exposed to a traumatic event before the age of four. Defined as “witnessing or experiencing physical or sexual abuse, violence in families and communities, loss of a loved one, etc.”
  • The Allegheny County Health Department found that African-American males lost a total of 2,467 years of cumulative potential life, due to death. (Allegheny County, Department of Health, 2012) When the Allegheny County Health Department’s Office of Epidemiology and Biostatistics examined disparities related to age-adjusted mortality across race and education, it was revealed that both race and education played a major role in mortality rates.”

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Action Steps Leads
Training six hundred (600) staff in the child welfare program office on trauma informed care, developing a response for staff that experience secondary trauma because of exposure to stressful conditions due to their professional duties and actively encourage 148 contracted agencies to develop and integrate trauma principles into their services and staff supports -Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families
Tapping the talents of Faith-based communities to engage with Violence Prevention programs -Iron Cross Community Ministries, Freedom Indeed and, Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church in collaboration with the Office of State Representative Ed Gainey (24th legislative district
Engaging stakeholders to implement the plan crafted by the National Initiative for Restoring Community Trust and Justice -Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Creating a youth advisory council that develops proactive strategies that reflects the priorities of youth -Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Establishing a Public Safety Career Academy to ensure that youth are acquainted with careers in Public Safety -Department of Public Safety and Pittsburgh Public Schools
Hosting quarterly conversations with local leaders and youth as a means to build trust and community healing -U.S. Attorney’s Office
Increasing the numbers of police of color in the police force -Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and Allegheny County
Identifying safe routes with crossing guards that are trained to serve as “keepers” -Allies for Children and City of Pittsburgh
Increasing the numbers of employers that hire ex-offenders -Youth Opportunities Development & the City of Pittsburgh
Increasing the participation in jail collaborative and reentry services for men of color involved in the criminal justice system -Allegheny County Jail Collaborative
Secure commitments from the corporate community to develop policies that foster the hiring and retention of young men of color and provide a “second chance” by instituting the “ban the box” policy in the workplace -Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable

We need to get the word out about the great programs that we already have and any great ones that will be made in the future. The programs help students focus on things that they like to do and can help them with their school work too. They can bring up new things that students might not have known before”

– Youth Voice