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Obama Foundation recognizes Omaha as model community for people of color

Downtown Omaha, Nebraska Skyline
Posted at 3:09 PM, May 10, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance announced on Wednesday that Omaha is one of four model communities.

The organization cited the city's success in shifting outcomes for men and children of color in a positive way.

This recognition provides The African-American Empowerment Network with access to direct coaching, evaluation support, peer-to-peer learning and other resources that include an $800,000 grant.

See the full press release below:

Today, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation, announced that Omaha is one of four MBK Model Communities, a new initiative that seeks to expand the implementation of evidence-based practices and impact for communities across the country.

Omaha was selected from a network of hundreds that have an evidence-based track record of success in positively shifting outcomes for boys and young men of color.

Each MBK Model Community represents a tangible example of the systems-level impact that communities can have when working to achieve the MBK Milestones.

The MBK Milestones are six key life milestones that research shows are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact. Willie Barney, CEO & Founder of the Empowerment Network, joined President Obama onstage at an MBK Impact in Action event to share the city’s efforts to reduce violence.

“We are incredibly honored by this recognition and the investment and support from President Obama, the Obama Foundation and MBK,” said Willie Barney. “The collaborative efforts of hundreds of organizations and thousands of residents is reflected through the Empowerment Network, Omaha 360, Step-Up Omaha, City of Omaha, Omaha Police Department, foundations and the MBK partnership. We want to thank and recognize all of our partners, especially those on the front lines, doing the work every day with our youth and families. Through comprehensive collaboration across all sectors of the community, we are starting to return to 40-year lows in gun violence by addressing collaboration, prevention, intervention, enforcement, reentry and focusing on root causes. We know there’s a lot more work ahead to continue creating safe and thriving communities in every zip code and we’re excited to build on and expand this amazing partnership with the Obama Foundation and MBK in Omaha and across the country.”

“Omaha is honored to be recognized as a model city by President Obama and the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “One city can definitely set an example and make a difference in the lives of boys and young men of color. We are proud to be that city. The successful strategies and partnerships we have created in Omaha to significantly reduce gun violence, improve police-community relations, and fund summer youth employment programs can be adapted for other communities to have similar impactful and sustainable outcomes. Thank you for this great recognition and the opportunity to build on the progress we have made with the Empowerment Network to make Omaha a safe city.”

“In 2014, in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, I challenged every community in the country to implement strategies to help boys and young men of color,” said former President Obama. “Today, I’m proud to see the incredible impact My Brother’s Keeper Alliance communities are having – helping hundreds of community leaders across the country solve problems for the next generation. Thanks to the tireless efforts of MBK communities, cities like Omaha have changed the odds – creating opportunities for our young people to achieve their full potential. The MBK Model Communities initiative represents the next phase of the MBK Alliance’s work to help communities take on their biggest challenges – and I look forward to continuing this work alongside them for years to come.”

“As we strive to build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color across the country, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is proud to recognize Omaha as an MBK Model Community,” said Dr. Adren Wilson, MBK Alliance Executive Director. “Omaha has demonstrated a commitment to Milestone Six: All Youth Should Remain Safe from Violent Crime, achieving a 30 percent decrease in city-wide homicides from 2011 to 2022. By providing direct coaching, peer-to-peer learning, financial resources, and evaluation support, the MBK Alliance is confident that Omaha will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and best practices for other communities to follow. Together, we can ensure our boys and young men of color have access to the opportunities they need, including the opportunity to remain safe from violent crime.”

Each selected MBK Model Community has achieved significant impact in at least one of the six MBK Milestones by instituting programming and initiatives that have positively shifted outcomes in the educational or violence reduction ecosystems throughout their municipal areas. Omaha was chosen because of their demonstrated impact in MBK Milestone Six: Remaining Safe from Violent Crime – All youth and young adults should be safe from violent crime. In Omaha, Nebraska, city-wide homicides were reduced by 30 percent from 2011 to 2022.

The African-American Empowerment Network will lead the Model Communities initiative for MBK Omaha. The Obama Foundation’s MBK Alliance will provide MBK Omaha with the necessary support to continue implementing systems-level change in these areas and to grow their impact in other areas within their municipal infrastructure. Specifically, the MBK Alliance will provide MBK Omaha with:

  • Access to direct coaching, evaluation support, and peer-to-peer learning
  • Direct resources, including an $800,000 grant ($400,000 a year for two years)
  • Ongoing technical assistance for their work

By investing in and spotlighting Omaha as an MBK Model Community, the MBK Alliance intends to seed other communities across the country with knowledge, best practices, and resources so that they too can achieve systems-level impact in the lives of boys and young men of color.
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