Houston Health Department

MBK Houston, Change Happens Among Ten Obama Foundation Community Challenge Competition Winners


Feb. 11, 2019

HOUSTON — My Brother’s Keeper Houston, an initiative of the Houston Health Department, and Houston-based Change Happens are among the winners of the inaugural Obama Foundation MBK Community Challenge Competition.

The organizations will be awarded a National Impact Communities grant to expand their flagship mentoring program at Jack Yates High School. The program pairs more than 200 boys and young men of color with one-to-one mentors who provide weekly support in a classroom setting and leverage resources to ensure the development of strong relationships.

The $100,000 grant will be matched locally and includes a full-time coordinator position.

“This national recognition demonstrates how far we’ve come with the MBK Houston Movement and the progress gained through bringing together diverse interests from the health, education, employment, and justice systems to accelerate impact for our city’s youth, with a strategic focus on boys and young men of color,” said Noel A. Pinnock, bureau chief of the Houston Health Department Bureau of Youth & Adolescent Health and director of MBK Houston. “This couldn’t be more evident with our expanded partnership with Change Happens.”

“Change Happens is thrilled to be a My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge Competition grantee. This award represents strong partnerships and collective efforts to create opportunities where boys and young men of color can thrive,” said Helen Stagg, senior director and interim chief executive officer of Change Happens “Change Happens is committed to helping all people realize their potential. This partnership will work to match mentors to students at Jack Yates High School to provide quality one-on-one mentors to hundreds of boys and young men of color, which will make a lasting positive impact in their lives.”

Ten National Impact Communities and five National Seed Communities will receive grant funding from the Obama Foundation for direct services, technical assistance, and evaluation support over the next two years to expand evidence-based initiatives to reduce youth violence, grow effective mentorship programs, and measurably improve the lives of boys and young men of color.

“After an exhaustive application and review process we have identified a cohort of communities and organizations we believe can show the nation what it takes to build safe and supportive communities where boys and young men of color can thrive,” said Michael D. Smith, executive director of MBK Alliance and director of Youth Opportunity Programs at the Obama Foundation. “The MBK Alliance team is committed to providing these communities with the tools, support, and access they need to accelerate impact that not only meets urgent needs today but that tackles the systemic barriers that prevent too many of our children from achieving their dreams.”

The other National Impact Community winners are Albuquerque, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Juan, and Yonkers.