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Summit to examine options for young black males

LOS ANGELES — A summit focused on young black males will be held at 10 a.m. April 18, organizers said.

Up to 200 men are expected to attend the session designed to help close the educational and opportunity gaps facing black men, said Keith Parker, director of the Gang Reduction and Youth Development program at Community Build.

Parker said this is the first summit and there will be one each quarter.

“The objective is to come up with some solutions and goals that the community can implement to help men of color close the educational gap,” Parker said.

The summit’s purpose is to encourage communities and individuals to implement a cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for young people to improve their life outcomes.

It is patterned after President Barack Obama’s initiative called My Brother’s Keeper, launched in February 2014. Obama challenged government, businesses, education agencies, nonprofits and individuals to ensure that the nation’s youth have the tools needed to succeed, according to the White House website.

Eddie Melton, chairman of the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, will be the keynote speaker.

“All youth should have the opportunity to be surrounded by the presence of positive adult role models,” Melton said. “Any adult who has answered the call to serve as a mentor has displayed a true act of leadership.”

On the first anniversary of My Brother’s Keeper in February, Obama called the initiative “a way to make sure that we’re reaching young people who sometimes don’t have the kind of opportunities that we want every American child to have.”

It serves to “build and execute robust plans to ensure that all young people — no matter who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they are born — can achieve their full potential,” according to the My Brother’s Keeper website.

Melton said he will offer his perspective of the initiative in addition to his take on mentoring young black men.

“My goal is to connect our youth with the right individuals at the right time to result in a winning combination for their growth, success and future.”

Parker added that the summit, to be held at the South L.A. Sports Activity Center, 7020 S. Figueroa St., will focus on three of the six goals the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge issued: youth being able to read at grade level by third grade, graduating from high school ready for college and a career; and reducing violence and providing a second chance.

The free event is being hosted by several community-based organizations, including the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development.