"My Brother's Keeper" Tour: Showcasing programs that improve the lives of black men in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It was an effort to showcase programs being implemented to help improve the lives of black men in Milwaukee. On Tuesday, August 26th, Milwaukee Alderman Ashanti Hamilton and Mayor Tom Barrett hosted a special site tour, called "the My Brother’s Keeper - Black Male Achievement Advisory Council Site Tour." The tour continues Wednesday.

The Milwaukee site visit began Tuesday with the groundbreaking for the new Northwestern Mutual Life (NML) Tower and Commons project.

Construction crews will soon begin building the $450 million NML headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. As a result, many jobs will be created, at least 40% of which will be reserved for city of Milwaukee residents.

“Kicking our tour off at NML is not only indicative of Milwaukee’s economic growth prospects, but provides a direct visual link to the training and employment opportunities our visitors will witness throughout the day," Alderman Hamilton said.

A news conference was held later Tuesday afternoon during the "Milwaukee Builds" graduation ceremony.

The "Milwaukee Builds" program connects workers in Milwaukee with job opportunities in government, not-for-profit agencies and the private sector.

The 45 people graduating from the program on Tuesday have completed the program, and are ready to take on jobs in the community. Some of the dozens of people graduating have earned certifications that make them eligible for jobs at the Northwestern Mutual construction site.

"None of this seems possible. It seems surreal right now. It's a privilege and a blessing to be be talking to you right now and to share my words with the community and somebody who watches this TV station tonight and I can inspire them and I can look forward to the future," Milwaukee Builds graduate Lushion Chappell said.

Alderman Hamilton said the Milwaukee Builds graduation, marking the successful end of an intensive construction jobs training initiative, was a fitting setting for the news conference.

“There are a number of best practices recognized by the (National League of Cities) and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and the city of Milwaukee is attempting to expand on our own local initiatives that follow the strategic practices recognized by those nationally-recognized and successful programs and efforts,” he said.

Other key stops during the site tour included:

    On Wednesday, August 27th, the site tour will include the meeting of the Black Male Achievement Advisory Council (BMAAC). The committee will hear presentations from the city’s Homicide Review Commission, the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative and the Be the Change/Safe Sons Collaborative.

    In 2013, the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families selected Milwaukee and 10 other cities from a pool of 28 applicants to receive assistance as the cities work to reduce disparities between black males and their peers.

    Over the course of the past 16 months, the NLC has provided technical assistance to assist city leaders as they’ve worked to develop and implement focused, cross-sector plans that are targeted toward meeting the needs of disadvantaged black male residents.