Obama Foundation selects the Empowerment Network/Omaha
as Model MBK Community
My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation, announced that Omaha is one of four MBK Model Communities, a new initiative that seeks to expand the implementation of evidence-based practices and impact for communities across the country. Omaha was selected from a network of hundreds that have an evidence-based track record of success in positively shifting outcomes for boys and young men of color.
Each MBK Model Community represents a tangible example of the systems-level impact that communities can have when working to achieve the MBK Milestones.
The MBK Milestones are six key life milestones that research shows are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact. Willie Barney, CEO & Founder of the Empowerment Network, joined President Obama onstage at an MBK Impact in Action event to share the city’s efforts to reduce violence.
“In 2014, in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, I challenged every community in the country to implement strategies to help boys and young men of color,” said President Obama. “Today, I’m proud to see the incredible impact My Brother’s Keeper Alliance communities are having – helping hundreds of community leaders across the country solve problems for the next generation.”
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of MBK communities, cities like Omaha have changed the odds – creating opportunities for our young people to achieve their full potential. The MBK Model Communities initiative represents the next phase of the MBK Alliance’s work to help communities take on their biggest challenges – and I look forward to continuing this work alongside them for years to come.”
“We are incredibly honored by this recognition and the investment and support from President Obama, Obama Foundation and MBK,” said Barney. “The collaborative efforts of hundreds of organizations and thousands of residents is reflected through the Empowerment Network, Omaha 360, Step-Up Omaha, City of Omaha, Omaha Police Department, foundations and the MBK partnership. We want to thank and recognize all of our partners, especially those on the front lines, doing the work every day with our youth and families.”
Willie Barney, CEO & Founder, Empowerment Network speaks during MBK Impact in Action. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance hosts an Impact in Action convening in Chicago, IL, on May 10, 2023. Please credit “The Obama Foundation.” Photo Credit: Obama Foundation
“Through comprehensive collaboration across all sectors of the community, we are starting to return to 40 year lows in gun violence by addressing collaboration, prevention, intervention, enforcement, reentry and focusing on root causes.”
We know there’s a lot more work ahead to continue reducing gun violence and we’re excited to build on and expand this amazing partnership with the Obama Foundation and MBK in Omaha and across the country,” said Barney.
Each selected MBK Model Community has achieved significant impact in at least one of the six MBK Milestones by instituting programming and initiatives that have positively shifted outcomes in the educational or violence reduction ecosystems throughout their municipal areas. Omaha was chosen because of their demonstrated impact in MBK Milestone Six: Remaining Safe from Violent Crime – All youth and young adults should be safe from violent crime. In Omaha, Nebraska, city-wide homicides were reduced by 30 percent from 2011 to 2022.
“Omaha is honored to be recognized as a model city by President Obama and the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.
“One city can definitely set an example and make a difference in the lives of boys and young men of color. We are proud to be that city. The successful strategies and partnerships we have created in Omaha to significantly reduce gun violence, improve police-community relations, and fund summer youth employment programs can be adapted for other communities to have similar impactful and sustainable outcomes. Thank you for this great recognition and the opportunity to build on the progress we have made with the Empowerment Network to make Omaha a safe city.”
“This is an immense honor for the Omaha community to be named a model city by the Obama Foundation,” said Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
“The synergy of community partnerships, led by the Empowerment Network, Omaha 360 and embraced by the OPD has forged a new Omaha. Thank you to the Obama Foundation, the Omaha community and all the Omaha police officers!
The African-American Empowerment Network will lead the Model Communities initiative for MBK Omaha. The Obama Foundation’s MBK Alliance will provide MBK Omaha with the necessary support to continue implementing systems-level change in these areas and to grow their impact in other areas within their municipal infrastructure. Specifically, the MBK Alliance will provide MBK Omaha with:
- Access to direct coaching, evaluation support, and peer-to-peer learning
- Direct resources, including an $800,000 grant ($400,000 a year for two years)
- Ongoing technical assistance for their work
“As we strive to build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color across the country, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is proud to recognize Omaha as an MBK Model Community,” said Dr. Adren Wilson, MBK Alliance Executive Director. “Omaha has demonstrated a commitment to Milestone Six: All Youth Should Remain Safe from Violent Crime, achieving a 30 percent decrease in city-wide homicides from 2011 to 2022. By providing direct coaching, peer-to-peer learning, financial resources, and evaluation support, the MBK Alliance is confident that Omaha will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and best practices for other communities to follow. Together, we can ensure our boys and young men of color have access to the opportunities they need, including the opportunity to remain safe from violent crime.”
By investing in and spotlighting Omaha as an MBK Model Community, the MBK Alliance intends to seed other communities across the country with knowledge, best practices, and resources so that they too can achieve systems-level impact in the lives of boys and young men of color.
Full Statements and Quotes:
“We are incredibly honored by this recognition and the investment and support from President Obama, the Obama Foundation and MBK. The collaborative efforts of hundreds of organizations and thousands of residents is reflected through the Empowerment Network, Omaha 360, Step-Up Omaha, City of Omaha, Omaha Police Department, and the MBK partnership.
“Model city doesn’t mean we’re perfect or have it all solved and figured out, but it recognizes the great collaborative work that is happening here in Omaha and the collective outcomes that have been generated.”
We want to thank and recognize all of our partners, especially those on the front lines, doing the work every day with our youth and families. Through comprehensive collaboration across all sectors of the community, we are starting to return to 40 year lows in gun violence by addressing collaboration, prevention, intervention, enforcement, reentry and focusing on root causes. We know there’s a lot more work ahead to continue transforming Omaha into a safe and thriving city in every zip code and we’re excited to build on and expand this amazing partnership with the Obama Foundation and MBK.”
- Willie D. Barney, CEO and Founder of the Empowerment Network
“Omaha is honored to be recognized as a model city by President Obama and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. One city can definitely set an example and make a difference in the lives of boys and young men of color. We are proud to be one of those cities.
The successful strategies and partnerships we have created in Omaha to significantly reduce gun violence, improve police-community relations, and fund youth employment programs can be adapted for other communities to have similar impactful and sustainable outcomes. Thank you for this great recognition and the opportunity to build on the progress we have made with the Empowerment Network to make Omaha a safe city.”
– Mayor Jean Stothert
“The Empowerment Network Board of Directors is excited for our continued partnership with the The Barack Obama Foundation / MBK Alliance. This new phase of our partnership is significant as The Empowerment Network is now an official MBK Model City. MBK’s investment over the next two years will allow The Empowerment Network to build on the tremendous work we’re currently doing and continue our goal of creating a measurable blueprint for cities around the country.”
- Timothy L. Christian, President, Empowerment Network Board and CEO of NightFox Entertainment
“This is an immense honor for the Omaha community to be named a model city by the Obama Foundation! The synergy of community partnerships, led by the Empowerment Network, Omaha 360 and embraced by the OPD has forged a new Omaha. Thank you to the Obama Foundation, the Omaha community and all the Omaha police officers!
– Police Chief Todd Schmaderer
“As one of the original criminal justice covenant leaders and first board president I’m excited that we have this amazing opportunity to partner with the Obama Foundation to move this important work forward. Willie Barney and I have discussed the power of bringing our community together and partnering with the Omaha Police Department and so many other partners to impact lives. To reduce gun violence and homicides and laying a foundation for better economic, educational outcomes, increasing home ownership, improving medical outcomes and increasing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. We always believed this could be a national effort to impact lives across this country and this partnership gives us that opportunity. We are proud to be a Model City and we look forward to partnering with other communities across America.
- John Ewing, Vice-President of the Empowerment Network Board, Douglas County Treasurer and former Deputy Chief for Omaha Police Department
“It is great to see that the work the Empowerment Network has done in working with and facilitating cradle-to-career partners to transform our city over the past 16 years, has resulted in the Obama Foundation now recognizing Omaha as a Model City.”
- Teresa Hunter, CEO of Family Housing Advisory Services, Board Member of the Empowerment Network
In 2018-2019, the Empowerment Network was selected by the Obama Foundation as one of 15 cities to receive an Impact or Seed Award. Omaha and The Network were selected from over 250 applications because of its documented success in helping to reduce gun violence through Omaha 360, connecting youth to employment opportunities through Step-Up Omaha and creating mentoring opportunities for African-American young men and other boys of color in partnership with MBK of the Heartland and MentorNebraska.
In 2019, the Empowerment Network was invited to attend MBK Rising held in Oakland, California. It was the 5 year anniversary of the creation of the MBK Alliance by President Barack Obama. Omaha sent six representatives including one of our Step-Up Omaha alumni. He had the opportunity to participate onstage with President Obama.
The collaborative is an extension of the Network’s Cradle to Career Collaborative and Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaborative. (Read more below)
National leaders from the Obama Foundation, including the President of the organization, have traveled to Omaha to launch and expand partnerships.
Adewale Adeyemo, president of the Obama Foundation, traveled to Omaha in 2019 as the keynote speaker for the Network’s annual African-American Leadership Conference. Adeyemo recognized the Network for its collaborative approach and measurable results. Adeyemo expressed that the Obama Foundation considers the Network as a national model that should be expanded across the country. He also commented that the Obama Foundation planned to partner with the Empowerment Network long-term to continue to work.
Article and News Story from Omaha World-Herald and KETV:
Adewale Adeyemo, President of the Obama Foundation
Keynote and Interview at the Network’s AALC
Prior to the Obama Foundation partnership. The Empowerment Network launched the Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaborative.
In 2013, the National League of Cities with the support of the Open Society Foundation and PolicyLink created an eleven city cohort referred to as the Black Male Achievement Initiative. During the spring of 2013, the Empowerment Network and City of Omaha made an application to the National League of Cities to become part of their Black Male Achievement Initiative. Omaha was notified in May of 2013 that it was one of 11 cities selected to move forward with a technical assistance grant to develop a comprehensive plan focused on the success of African-American boys and young men in Omaha. The Empowerment Network Collaboration, a seven year nationally recognized initiative, includes all of these goals and has active collaborations and measurable results in each area identified as priorities by the National League of Cities.
As a part of the process, over 40 representatives from various entities worked on the plan, and 20 signed letters of intent and agreed to participate formally to:
1. ENGAGE IN PLANNING WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
2. PARTICIPATE WITHIN AN AGREED UPON STRUCTURE
3. COLLECT AND SHARE DATA
4. ALIGN STRATEGIES AS PART OF A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
5. ACTIVELY ENGAGE YOUTH IN DECISION-MAKING
Now, over 50 organizations have agreed to participate with the plan as it continues to move forward and others are joining in each month. The group has also hosted two community meetings to gather additional ideas and recommendations for the strategies.