Investing in Boys and Young Men of Color

Policies and practices that support young men of color in their teen years can help put them on the path to lead healthy and productive lives. Young men of color face more obstacles in education, employment, and health than their white peers. In order to improve health and success of middle- and high school-aged young men of color, RWJF launched Forward Promise in 2011.

To inform this new initiative and better understand the issues at work, RWJF engaged the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) to conduct roundtable discussions, online surveys, and telephone interviews. The resulting issue brief highlights challenges, recommendations, and ideas for action.

Key Findings

  • Promote school discipline approaches that address behavioral problems without pushing students out of school.
  • Increase the use of data to target interventions to boys at risk for dropping out of school.
  • Expand opportunities for young men to work, learn, and develop career-enhancing skills.
  • Elevate the importance of a “caring adult” in policy and programmatic efforts to re-engage out-of-school males.
  • Provide options for out-of-school males to attain a secondary credential with pathways to postsecondary education.
  • Increase access to health care services and the cultural competency of health professionals and educators who work with boys and young men of color.
  • Change the philosophy and culture of how youth systems provide services to youth experiencing violence and trauma.

“There is much to be done in the realm of legislation and regulatory reform, in the reframing of social service systems to be explicitly supportive of boys and young men of color, and in programmatic efforts on the ground that are geared toward youth of color,” write the authors. “The strength of our society depends on whether young men of color have the opportunity to become healthy adults who contribute to their communities and society.”