Key Points

For too long, many African American, Latino, Native, and Asian boys and young men have been shunted into failing schools and pushed out of them for minor infractions, incarcerated in massive numbers, suffered from unaddressed health needs, died young, or entered adulthood without prospects to earn a livelihood.

In response to this crisis, an evolving body of work rooted in place has emerged to reverse persistent patterns of racial discrimination, build strong communities, and create pathways to opportunity by catalyzing changes in local and state systems that have the greatest impact on young males of color.

The experiences of PolicyLink and other organizations provide important lessons about the elements of successful efforts on behalf of boys and men of color. This article describes four key elements, shares how they are driving transformative efforts on the ground, and includes reflections on the complexities and challenges involved in building these practices. It also examines the role of the philanthropic community in providing strategic support to advance promising approaches.

Within the dynamic context of a growing movement, the local efforts and philanthropic contributions highlighted in this article illustrate that meaningful change is possible when critical ingredients come together.

Open Access