A Statement on President Obama's 'My Brother's Keeper' Initiative

All boys deserve a chance for a successful future

All boys deserve a chance for a successful future

From the Desk of Brother Lawrence

This week, President Obama announced the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, a new initiative to help young men of color reach their full potential.  With this new initiative, the president hopes to promote programming aimed at helping boys of color succeed in the face of adversity, to identify programs that work at mentoring and supporting struggling boys, and to focus on guiding young men to a path to success. 

As the founder and executive director of the San Miguel School of Providence, I congratulate President Obama on this new initiative. And, I congratulate all who are a part of the San Miguel community—You, too, are committed to transforming the lives of urban boys, an underserved population that is in extra need of our attention.

The San Miguel School was founded in 1993 to address a problem I witnessed in our Providence communities. I saw young boys growing up in violent neighborhoods with a constant pressure of gang involvement; in homes with financial instability and a lack of parental involvement; in schools where they struggled socially or academically and where their education was defined by truancy or bullying.

Amid all of their struggles and challenges, however, I saw young boys. Above all else, these were children—children who deserve the same opportunities in life as any other child. Regardless of color, culture or socio-economic background, shouldn’t every child be afforded an equal opportunity for quality education and a successful future?

Twenty-one years later, The San Miguel School is a successful model for what works in urban education. We have found that if you provide a child with a safe, supportive environment, surrounded by adults who care about him and believe in him, he will succeed. I firmly believe that there is no child who doesn’t want to be successful. It is our job—and our privilege—to give him the tools to do so.

The San Miguel School transforms the futures of young boys entrusted to our care. We teach them the values of respect, confidence, and hard work. Our boys learn teamwork and sportsmanship. They learn the importance of giving back to their communities through service. They take pride in becoming “Miguel Men.”

At San Miguel School, we believe that every young man, regardless of the challenges he faces in his daily life, can succeed, and we are dedicated to supporting that belief thanks to the thousands of volunteers, staff members, and supporters who have made our mission possible over the past two decades.

We certainly are our “brothers’ keepers;” we must count on each other, support one another, and together, continue believing in the futures of our boys.