Other Group

My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Alliance

Status:

Fiscally Sponsored

Type:

Race-based community organizing

Founded:

2014

Director:

Adren Wilson

My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), also known as the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, is a networking organization for teenage and young adult men of Black and other ethnic minority backgrounds. It also pushes for policies which it perceives to be beneficial to minority groups. MBK was founded in February 2014 by President Barack Obama. The organization was placed under the fiscal sponsorship of the Obama Foundation, which was also launched that year, and former senior members of the Obama administration have continued to promote it since the end of President Obama’s second term. [1]

MBK has collaborated with controversial Black activists such as left-wing preacher Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and self-professed Marxist activist Alicia Garza of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. [2] [3] The Obama Foundation, the parent organization of MBK, has also accepted funding from the Open Society Foundations, the primary grantmaking institution within the network of billionaire activist financier George Soros, a leading backer of left-wing activist causes in the United States. [4]

Background

My Brother’s Keeper cites the death of Black teenager Trayvon Martin as its initial inspiration, tying it to issues facing minority communities and American society’s perceived responsibility for them. [5] Martin was shot in February 2012 following an altercation with Sanford, Florida, resident George Zimmerman, who claimed that Martin had assaulted him. The incident quickly gained national media attention, and at the time, President Obama portrayed it as an indictment of American society, claiming that the nation needed “soul-searching.” [6]

Parent Organization

The Obama Foundation, named after and founded by President Barack Obama, exists to advance his policy priorities and liberal societal values in general. The foundation is also responsible for financing and overseeing the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, Illinois. The foundation hosts training programs for left-of-center activists, especially those working to advance the interests of minority groups, and plans to use the Obama Center for this purpose. [7] Since 2021, the foundation has been receiving funding from the Open Society Foundations, the flagship grantmaking organization within the Soros Network. That year, Soros directed more than $1 million to the Obama Foundation. [8]

Initiatives

In 2018, My Brother’s Keeper announced that winners of a large-scale, nationwide selection process would receive grants that the organization claimed would help reduce violence in minority communities and expand mentorship programs for minority youth. The awards were divided into “impact” grants, which are intended to help established groups expand, and “seed” grants, intended for recently established or under-developed groups. Recipients included liberal education reform groups, community organizing centers, and smaller grantmaking institutions such as the Los Angeles, California-based Liberty Hill Foundation, which primarily funds other left-wing community organizing initiatives in lieu of social services. [9]

MBK regional chapters frequently frame their work in terms of generating equality of outcome, often by means of taxpayer funding and new policies. MBK in New York City cites societal “opportunity gaps” rather than individual behavior as its motivation, and MBK in Los Angeles, California, sets open-ended objectives of “all” young adults achieving numerous benchmarks related to educational achievement and crime prevention. MBK Los Angeles similarly cites broadly defined societal “obstacles” as factors leading to poor academic performance and high crime rates within ethnic minority communities. [10] [11]

The 2021 Obama Foundation annual report stated that “more than 250 communities” are involved with the MBK program. The foundation also held a virtual two-day “leadership forum” to connect “MBK Communities” and feature the then-new “MBK Equity Framework” blueprint for its activists and their communities. [12]

Leadership

In January 2022, the Obama Foundation selected Adren Wilson as the new executive director of My Brother’s Keeper. Wilson was previously the chief executive officer of Public Allies, an initiative for providing leadership training to activists and organizers, particularly those from minority backgrounds, which was run by the taxpayer-funded AmeriCorps public service organization. He has also worked as the director of youth and student leadership for the Children’s Defense Fund, a pressure group which pushes for increased taxpayer funding of welfare programs and public schools, as well as promoting other left-wing policy initiatives such as Second Amendment restrictions. [13]

Broderick Johnson is the chairman of the MBK advisory council and a member of the Obama Foundation board. He works as the executive vice president for public policy and “digital equity” at the broadcasting corporation Comcast. Like many others associated with the foundation, Broderick has close ties to the former Obama White House, where he was the assistant to the President and secretary of the cabinet. He was also the deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs under the Clinton Administration. [14]

Valerie Jarrett is the chief executive officer of the Obama Foundation, the parent organization and fiscal sponsor of MBK. Jarrett was the senior advisor to President Obama throughout his two terms in office. She was the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. In addition to running the Obama Foundation, Jarrett has chaired the left-wing grantmaking and activism organization Civic Nation – which also employs a number of other former Obama White House officials – as well as one of its subordinate projects, the United States of Women summit. [15]

Throughout her time in the White House, Jarrett’s perceived close relationship with the Obama family led to controversy, with other Cabinet members raising concerns over her close involvement in policymaking, including national security affairs. Jarrett was involved in another controversy during the 2016 election cycle, when a report in the New York Post asserted that she was looking for candidates to challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. However, Jarrett denied the veracity of the report, as did a White House spokesman. [16]

Funding

My Brother’s Keeper receives much of its funding from left-wing philanthropic organizations, such as the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, which issued a $5 million grant to the Obama Foundation in December 2022 to support the organization and several of the foundation’s other projects. [17] However, MBK and its local chapters have also received large contributions from corporations, notably the Texas-based natural gas exporter Freeport LNG, which donated $1 million to the organization’s Houston, Texas, chapter in January 2021. [18] Local governments have also allocated significant funding to local MBK affiliates, such as when the city commissioners of Orlando, Florida, voted to use $1 million in taxpayer dollars to help support their local chapter of the organization in September 2020. [19]

The Obama Foundation raised nearly $160 million in 2021, spent over $40 million the same year, and held assets totaling just over $680 million. [20]

References

  1. “We Are Our Brothers’ Keepers.” Obama Foundation. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/mbka/ ^
  2. “Rev. Al Sharpton: Obama’s New Jeremiah Wright.” Investor’s Business Daily. August 25, 2014. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/sharptons-growing-influence-inside-the-white-house-disturbing/ ^
  3. “We Are Our Brothers’ Keepers.” Obama Foundation. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/mbka/ ^
  4. Lynn Sweet. “Obama Foundation reveals $830M needed to build, operate Obama Center in first year.” Chicago Sun-Times. August 17, 2021. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2021/8/17/22629390/obama-center-cost-foundation-funding-michael-jordan-george-soros ^
  5. “A Movement Inspired By Trayvon Martin Unleashes the Power of Communities to Work Together to Solve Problems for Boys and Young Men of Color.” Obama Foundation. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/mbka/eighth-anniversary/ ^
  6. “Trayvon Martin Shooting Fast Facts.” CNN. June 5, 2013. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2013/06/05/us/trayvon-martin-shooting-fast-facts/index.html ^
  7. “About the Foundation.” Obama Foundation. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/about-the-foundation/ ^
  8. Lynn Sweet. “Obama Foundation reveals $830M needed to build, operate Obama Center in first year.” Chicago Sun-Times. August 17, 2021. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2021/8/17/22629390/obama-center-cost-foundation-funding-michael-jordan-george-soros ^
  9. “The MBK Alliance Impact and Seed Communities.” Obama Foundation. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/mbka/our-work/communities/ ^
  10. “My Brother’s Keeper.” New York State Education Department. Accessed December 16, 2022. http://www.nysed.gov/mbk ^
  11. “My Brother’s Keeper.” Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://ceo.lacounty.gov/ardi/my-brothers-keeper/ ^
  12. “The Obama Foundation 2021 Annual Report,” Barack Obama Foundation, Accessed December 19, 2022. https://www.obama.org/wp-content/uploads/2021-Obama-Foundation-Annual-Report-1.pdf ^
  13. “Obama Foundation Names Adren Wilson as New Executive Director of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.” Obama Foundation. January 27, 2022. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/updates/adren-wilson-mbka/ ^
  14. “The Board.” Obama Foundation. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/whats-next/leadership/the-board/ ^
  15. “The Board.” Obama Foundation. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.obama.org/whats-next/leadership/the-board/ ^
  16. Ariel Goronja. “Valerie Jarrett: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.” Heavy. May 29, 2018. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://heavy.com/news/2018/05/valerie-jarrett-roseanne-barr/ ^
  17.  “Reginald F. Lewis Foundation Makes $5 Million Commitment to Obama Foundation.” Yahoo Finance. December 7, 2022. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/reginald-f-lewis-foundation-makes-140000745.html ^
  18. “My Brother’s Keeper Houston’s mission supported thanks to $1million grant.” Defender. January 30, 2021. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://defendernetwork.com/news/local-state/my-brothers-keeper-houstons-mission-supported-thanks-to-1million-grant/ ^
  19. Jerry Askin. “My Brother’s Keeper awarded $1 million to expand in Orlando.” Click Orlando. September 24, 2020. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2020/09/24/my-brothers-keeper-awarded-1-million-to-expand-in-orlando/ ^
  20. “The Barack Obama Foundation 2021 IRS Form 990,” Barack Obama Foundation. Accessed December 19, 2022. https://www.obama.org/wp-content/uploads/B200_The-Barack-Obama-Foundation_Form-990_PD-Copy_No-Schedule-B_TR_TY21.pdf ^
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