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LaTrenda Leonard, MBA

LaTrenda Leonard, MBA

PITTSBURGH, PA -The City of Pittsburgh in collaboration with Allegheny County has named the committee to oversee local implementation of President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, which is seeking ways to provide more opportunities to boys and young men of color.

“The Pittsburgh MBK committee is a strong group that will produce tangible results that can be used by the community to empower residents and organizations to truly affect the MBK cause. The committee will be an active, engaged body and full participation will be key in order to achieve any its outcomes,” said LaTrenda S. Leonard, Deputy Chief of Operations and Administration for Mayor William Peduto, who is overseeing MBK initiatives for the City.

The committee’s first goal is to write a Greater Pittsburgh Region MBK Playbook. This document will outline effective strategies that are working to support the success of young men of color, and ways to implement these strategies locally.

The playbook will reference existing programs, common vocabulary and methodology used in the programs and also seek areas of improvement for the region. It will also establish target goals for the city in order to improve livability for all.

It will include recommendations for increasing capacity for organizations working in this space, and how the region can develop a comprehensive plan to improve outcomes for young men of color in Pittsburgh.

In September 2014 the President issued a challenge to cities, counties, towns and tribes nationwide to become “MBK Communities,” wherein elected officials work with local partners to forge long-term and strategic programs to help the job and life development of at-risk young people.

The six goals of My Brother’s Keeper are:

Ensuring all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready

Ensuring all children read at grade level by 3rd grade

Ensuring all youth graduate from high school

Ensuring all youth complete post-secondary education or training

Ensuring all youth out of school are employed

Ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime

In late September the city began surveying key members of the community to identify the top goals for the local My Brother’s Keeper drive. The surveys indicated the top three needs for young men of color in the greater Pittsburgh community are workforce development, education, and police interaction.

In addition to the Greater Pittsburgh MBK Playbook the committee plans to work on two other initiatives. They are:

A Livability index/community tracker for Pittsburgh. This will be a tool that uses data to track the progress of specific indicators of livability in Pittsburgh including kindergarten readiness, early grade reading, high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment, postsecondary completion, and career placement and retention.

A Youth Narrative. This is a document that speaks to the experience of youth of color in the City of Pittsburgh and provides recommendations of how the city should approach this issue from their perspective.

The committee is currently scheduling its next meetings.

The members of the committee are:

Aerion Abney, Program Officer, POISE

Karen Abrams, Manager, Community and Diversity Affairs, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

James Brown, Program Director, YMCA Lighthouse Project

Rev. Dr. Darryl T. Canady, Pastor, Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church

Kevin Carter, Founder and Executive Director, Adonai Center for Black Males

Erin Dalton, Deputy Director of the Office of Data, Analysis, Research and Evaluation, Allegheny County Dept of Human Services

State Rep. Ed Gainey

Commander Eric Holmes, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police

Rev. Cornell Jones, Freedom Indeed, LLC, Iron Cross Community Ministries

Walter Lewis, Manager, Homewood Children’s Village

Dr. Michael Quigley, Assistant Professor, RMU, Director, The Black Male Leadership Development Institute

Jason Rivers, Pittsburgh Public Schools

Dr. Walter Smith, Deputy Director, Office of Children, Youth and Families, Allegheny County Dept of Human Services

Dr. Wendy Etheridge Smith, Executive Director, Higher Achievement

Talli Thompson, Director of Operations, Youth Opportunities Development

Mary Young, Teacher, Concord Elementary School

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