FDR’S MBK Chapter: What Is It To Be, My Brother’s Keeper?


My Brother’s Keeper (Or more known as MBK) is an initiative founded by former President Barack Obama in 2014. He established the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, at the federal level. The Task Force was an interagency effort dedicated to closing, and eliminating the opportunistic rift that young men of color confront, throughout their pre-adult years. The goal is for all young men to embrace the chance to both, become aware of, and fulfill their true potential.

With the 2016–2017 New York State budget, New York proudly became the first state to embark upon the President’s challenge, and enacted the My Brother’s Keeper initiative into law. The budget included a $20 million investment obligated towards the development of the initiative, and purse  obtainable outlooks, within the lives of young men of color.

MBK was born within our beloved FDR in 2019. For the past 4 years, MBK has refined young men within our school community and is still effectively continuing to accomplish its goals to this day. MBK has a body of both Administrative Advisors, and a Student Cabinet. Coincidentally, Avery Ali, whom is journalizing this article, has been the President of FDR’s MBK chapter for 2 years, and has been a dedicated member since 2020. The Vice-President is Aubrey Stewart, the Treasurer is Joel Louis, and Leomar Velasquez is the Head of Public Relations. FDR’s MBK chapter is mentored by our nurturing advisors, Mrs. Marcano, Mrs. Williams, Ms. Dockery, Ms. Joute, and Mr.Fathallah.

The New Dealer was fortunate to interviewed a few advisors, and members of the student body, to understand what occurs at the institutional level, and student level, within MBK.

First to join us is advisor, Mrs. Marcano:

When did you become apart of MBK at FDR?

” I joined MBK November 2019, when the FDR MBK Chapter was first created.”

What does MBK mean to you?

“MBK means “representation” and “brotherhood” to me. It extends beyond something I contribute to professionally, because as a black female educator and mother of a preteen son, I know all too well the opportunity gaps, lack of resources, and absence of positive role models that continue to plague our community. I am called to be an advocate for young black and brown students. I must do my part to ensure that our youth have a safe space in which they feel encouraged and appreciated, and are provided enrichment opportunities to unlock their potential, explore their talents, achieve their academic and postgraduate goals, and ultimately excel in life.”

Thank you, any final regards?

“My Brother’s Keeper is more than a club. It is a nationwide organization committing to uplifting young men of color and I am honored to play a small part in that.”

Truly meaningful words, thank you for your dedication to our young men, by guiding them in becoming their own successful individuals. Your work is more than appreciated.

Next we have fellow advisor, Mr.Fathallah:

When did you join MBK at FDR?

“I joined MBK the fall of 2021. I started as an advisor and transitioned to District 20 Co-Chair in 2022.”

Congrats on that by the way! What are somethings we have done and are planning to do within the school?

“MBK compiles of trips, meetings, and events. We’ve held fundraiser events, college tours, and have onboarded community based organizations to continue to foster an environment of brotherhood and growth.”

Myself being a first hand witness, I commend the work you do for us. Finally, what does MBK mean to you?

“MBK means to me the ability to have a community of people that walk similar paths but have different stories. Having people surrounding you that care for your well-being and want to see you win at all times. MBK embodies what it means to be a man in my eyes. Accountability, respect and community.”

Thank you for your time and perseverance. To the mouths of those who receive the fruits of your hard labor, none of it goes unnoticed.

Next we interview uprising MBK Cabinet member, Leomar Velasquez:

Why did you join MBK?

“I joined MBK in March of 2022, because initially, I thought the trips would be fun to go on.”

What is your status in MBK, and how has MBK had an impact at the student level? More so, how has it impacted you individually?

“My current status is Head of Public Relations, for My Brothers Keeper. I think MBK has impacted us as students to become better academically, emotionally, and mentally. At an individual level, it has created new opportunities for my life which follows my dreams and passions for the future. I can 100% say that my life changed through MBK. I hope MBK could change other people’s lives, as much as it changed mine.”

Thank you Leo, we appreciate your input.

Finally, rather than interviewing myself; It would be more effective to put on display what MBK has accomplished through my own personal experience as president. I joined MBK during Online School, because my chemistry teacher at the time Mrs. Parkinson, believed I had something to offer to the organization. Little did I know how much it has had to offer me.

Firstly, I attended, and spoke about gun violence at NYC’s first Love Not Hate Seminar, at the MacRatunda building in Kingsborough Community College. Then, went on to be a guest at the DOE HQ at a meeting with city council, including DOE Chancellor David Banks, discussing ways to enrich our children throughout NYC’s education system. I have formed a strong connection with our District leadership, Superintendent Prayor, and his colleagues. I continue to network and expand my connections throughout NYC’s MBK Chapter, and whomever else I meet along the way. We visited Lincoln University, which is a Historically Black College, and became not only familiar with the HBCU environment, but strengthened our bonds to become better brothers.

After all the trips and school events, in the summer I attended a Online State MBK meeting, with a college board administrator about our curriculum and how we can make it more inclusive, and more coherent to the real world and its endeavors. The beginning of the school year, the newly appointed MBK Cabinet, alongside our Advisors, attended Mayor Eric Adam’s Launching of Project Pivot. Soon after we attended the Second Love Not Hate Meeting, exploring the mentality of being a ‘builder’ with special visitor’s Thorace Hampton, and Jeff Lindor. We gained interest in his book, and we now have enough copies for all of MBK. We have a book club, Thursday 9th period every week. We are attending the third Love Not Hate Seminar, working towards building communications between schools and services that may have gone over looked, or possibly under looked.

MBK offers a variety of opportunities to those who choose to join. We have basketball tournaments, to every Wednesday’s weekly sessions, where we have special guest speakers. For example, Ricardo Oxley, Fashion Stylist/Model Thorace Hampton, Author/Film Producer, and many more that have attended our meeting, or are planning to do so! If there is no guest, either a Cabinet Member, or Advisor will lead the session. The positive fortuity that arises from the brotherhood is unmatched. Even this past weekend Erasmus Hall’s MBK President (Darley Rene) and I attended an event hosted by the Sorority of Phi Delta Kapp and the African American History Committee, concentrated in Black Resistance, and Black Resiliency. We met inspirational and informative people from across NYC.

Ultimately, the young men who have embarked on the journey MBK has provided them, are all in agreement that the positive influence on our lives is irrevocable. It can have that same impact on your life! We meet every Wednesday after 8th period, and 1st period, for those who are freshman. We also have our book club on Thursdays. You can get in contact with myself, any of the advisors, or any other members if you’re interested in joining. MBK has always embodied the ability to be unique, but find equality within our thoughts and be capable of transparency through communication. We are building young individuals to be self-reliant by holding one another accountable, challenging, and fortifying the family we have built. This is how we are, My Brother’s Keeper!