Helping minority youth will benefit all

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President Barack Obama’s new initiative aimed at improving the fortunes of young black and Hispanic males certainly is a worthwhile effort.

The president announced his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative last week under which businesses, foundations and community groups will pool investments to devise or support programs that help keep young minority men out of the criminal justice system and improve their access to higher education. The effort calls for no new federal program or government bureaucracy, rather a collaboration between private-sector groups to help minority youth overcome the challenges they face.

Several foundations have pledged at least $200 million to achieve that goal.

The president also created a government task force to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches to help inform local groups and businesses what types of efforts will prove most successful. The information will be posted on a “What Works” website.

Young minority men face an array of obstacles to achieving success in this country: poverty, drugs, gangs, unemployment and lack of family support to name a few. No one in Rocky Mount needs to be told about the effects that young, disaffected and disenfranchised youth have on the community.

These young people need special care and mentoring to learn that they can have a successful future beyond the drugs and violence so many of them have turned to. But as Obama correctly pointed out, community groups cannot work miracles for young men who do not take responsibility for themselves and make a conscious choice and concerted effort to suceed.

The initiative can serve as a vehicle of collective responsibility by showing youth that if they work hard to improve their lot in life, they will have the assistance of a support network of caring individuals determined to invest in their future success.