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Black Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Brings Magic Johnson to Honor Students in My Brother’s Keeper Program

The annual Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce luncheon celebrates economic growth, education, and minority business development. This year, they will recognize 40 Fort Worth ISD graduating seniors who are enrolled in the “My Brother’s Keeper” program and they will have a special guest to help them out. Basketball legend, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Earvin “Magic” Johnson is the luncheon’s keynote speaker.  He will address the topic, “In the Business to Develop Champions.”

The luncheon, sponsored by the Black Chamber of Commerce, will be June 2 at the Hilton Fort Worth.

President Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper” in 2014 to ensure that all youth, including boys and young men of color, have opportunities to improve their life outcomes and overcome barriers to success. Under the initiative, businesses, foundations, and community groups coordinate investments to create or support programs that help youth improve their access to higher education. More than 250 communities in all 50 states, including Fort Worth, have risen to the challenge to adopt innovative approaches, open doors, strengthen supports, and to build ladders of opportunity for boys and young men of color. 

President Obama enlisted Magic Johnson to co-lead the national launch of “My Brother’s Keeper” in 2014 with Joe Echevarria, president of Deloitte. Early on, a “My Brother’s Keeper” task force identified best practices to help the initiative succeed at the local level. The task force identified important focus areas such as mentorships, getting better data on minority boys, making sure young boys enter schools ready to learn, reducing violence, and reforming the juvenile justice system.

Rickie Clark coordinates “My Brother’s Keeper” for FWISD. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, which provides mentors for students in the program. His background is in grassroots community work with a passion for helping to motivate, inspire, and empower youth.

“The research is clear when it comes to young men of color in this country,” Mr. Clark said. “We know 96 percent of young men of color will graduate college if they are part of a fraternity or are involved in sports. That’s what we strive to do, get our high school graduates to college and keep them there to get that degree.” 

Mr. Clark reached out to local fraternities such as Alpha Phi Alpha and Lambda Theta Phi and asked for members who have experienced college and career success to mentor FWISD students through “My Brother’s Keeper.” They launched the local program in the fall of 2015 and this is their second school year of implementation.

“We have lunch with our boys once a week at their school,” Mr. Clark said. “We listen to them and we act as mentors and life coaches to help guide them in their decision making.” 

“My Brother’s Keeper” is in every FWISD high school. To maintain a chapter, membership must include a minimum of 12 students, with at least four of them being seniors.

“We have good participation numbers and we hope to increase them every year,” Mr. Clark said. “Last year 24 of our seniors graduated from high school in Fort Worth ISD. They began college last fall and today, 23 of them are still enrolled as they complete their freshman year. One student moved away with his family and told me he would re-enroll in college as soon as he was settled. Our goal is to help our students experience success.”

Mr. Clark discussed the early success of “My Brother’s Keeper” with Devoyd Jennings, who is President of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, and this conversation led to the 40 current seniors receiving special recognition at the upcoming luncheon. 

“Every time I tell the story of this program and share our success, people get really excited,” Mr. Clark said. “We are grateful that this luncheon will recognize the program and the students. Having Magic Johnson there is so appropriate because of his history with the program.” 

Mr. Clark said he and Mr. Jennings made a trip to Houston and met with Magic Johnson at an event. They extended a personal invitation to speak at the June luncheon and to meet the 40 seniors being recognized through “My Brother’s Keeper.”

“It didn’t take long for him to get back to us and accept our invitation,” Mr. Clark said. “Magic Johnson continued to work with “My Brother’s Keeper” long after the program was launched because it’s important to him.” 

Magic Johnson described the importance of “My Brother’s Keeper” in a letter to President Obama. “Accepting your call to be a co-leader of “My Brother’s Keeper” directly aligned with my commitment to our community and I am so grateful for that opportunity.”

“My Brother’s Keeper,” with its goal of helping young men of color achieve academic and career success, is directly aligned to FWISD’s mission of preparing all students for success in college, career, and community leadership.



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