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My Brother’s Keeper? The Impact of Targeted Supports

Introduced in 2014 by the Obama Administration, My Brother’s Keeper is a public-private partnership that engages local communities to address the opportunity gaps that boys and young men of color face. In Oakland, California, the initiative offers a program called African American Male Achievement, which includes classes taught by black male teachers and a focus on social-emotional development and culturally relevant studies. To understand if this approach has improved student persistence, researchers Thomas Dee and Emily Penner conducted a quasi-experimental analysis using 12 years of data from the Oakland Unified School District.

The results of their fixed-effects model is outlined in My Brother’s Keeper? The Impact of Targeted Educational Supports. Dee and Penner find a 43 percent reduction in the number of black male students dropping out, when compared to the average of cohorts before the program began. This suggests that access to the program in 9th and 10th grades could increase the rate of on-time high-school completion by 3.2 percentage points. These results demonstrate the value of local innovations in education for evidence-based, school improvement strategies.

By Rachel Grich