Obama-inspired foundation gets its start, with $80 million in the bank


President Barack Obama (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Barack Obama announced Monday that a new nonprofit aimed at empowering young men and boys of color has already raised $80 million from PepsiCo, Deloitte and other corporate sponsors.

As Yahoo News first reported, Obama will remain involved with the nonprofit, called My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, after he leaves office. The group, which will operate independently of the White House, is a spinoff of the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which he launched last year in response to the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida.

“America’s future depends on us caring about this,” the president said at an event at Lehman College in the Bronx Monday afternoon inaugurating the foundation. “If we don’t, then we will just keep on going through the same cycles of periodic conflict.”

Obama said police are on the “front lines” of the tensions between society and poor communities. When tensions flare up, some argue that social programs must not be working and that they should be gutted, he continued. “And then we wait for the next outbreak or problem to flare up. And we go through the same pattern all over again. So that, in effect, we do nothing.”

The president sees this private sector initiative as a way to stop doing nothing. The group will focus on lifting elementary school reading scores, high school graduation rates and career prospects for young men of color.

In his remarks, Obama said a “sense of unfairness and of powerlessness” has “helped fuel some of the protests that we’ve seen in places like Baltimore, and Ferguson, and right here in New York.”

The president has signed on to battle that sense of powerlessness for life.

“This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle, not just for the rest of my presidency but for the rest of my life,” Obama said.

The board for the new nonprofit — which includes the CEOs of Sprint, Sam’s Club and BET — met for the first time Monday. The advisory board includes former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Colin Powell and others. Joe Echevarria, the former CEO of Deloitte and a Bronx native, is interim CEO of the group.