Press Release (ePRNews.com) - Philadelphia, PA - May 24, 2016 - A newly released report today reveals that improving life outcomes for boys and men of color will rely heavily on their access to trusted resources, both in face-to-face interactions and on-line. In “Heard, Not Judged – Insights into the Talents, Realities and Needs of Young Men of Color,” researchers concluded that the creative use of mobile digital devices can be a highly effective tool to help boys and men of color (BMOC) overcome adversity and achieve their goals. The nine city report, which is part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, looks at the day-to-day lives of young men of color 18 to 24 and their need to connect to social services, jobs, healthcare, education, and more. The report is co-funded by the California Endowment and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and the study was conducted by MEE Productions, a social marketing firm.
“This research tells us that if we – our communities, organizations, governments, advocates…, and even our current candidates for President of the United States – are serious about addressing the plight of young men of color in this country, then we have to not only really listen to them and judge them as individuals, but we have to also meet them where they are socio-economically and technologically, and understand that accessing critical programs and services via their smart phone could very well become a lifeline for many of them,” said Ivan Juzang, President of MEE Productions and lead researcher.
Over a six-month period, the researchers delved into the everyday life, concerns and obstacles facing these young men. They explored whether a brand-driven, private sector approach using the technology young men already embrace could work better than traditional, public sector approaches in erasing disparities that have put them at a competitive disadvantage. The Heard, Not Judged report is based on focus groups and surveys with young Black and Latino males, ages 18 to 24, across nine cities: Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York City (Bronx), Baltimore, Atlanta, New Orleans and Detroit. The young men opened up about their lives — the myriad of challenges they face; who/what matters to them (and who/what doesn’t); their use of technology; and their need for access to jobs, education, mentoring and healthcare. All participants were in the lowest 20% in income.
There are two critical, missing ingredients that preclude young men of color from accessing critical services and resources. One is trust; the other is effective branding of the crucial community services, programs and resources they need.
These young men need both trusted, real-time online resources and face-to-face interactions to help them make informed decisions, build coping skills, and develop their innate talents;
The young men (and community) would benefit significantly from a digital platform made available to them for “one-stop shopping” in accessing jobs, education, healthcare, and social services. This would fill a huge access void in their lives and give them a way to lift themselves up with information, tools and resources;
Helping young men identify and act on opportunities to use their skills and talents can take them from merely surviving to thriving. They don’t know where to begin to access social services (nor do their family members) and most don’t take advantage of services available to them because they are unaware.
They yearn for mentors and guidance.
More Findings: Encouraging and Troubling:
Researchers found the young men’s responses to interview questions both encouraging and troubling. Heard, Not Judged uncovers their deep love and reverence for family and valuing education as a way to better their condition. Most deal with very high levels of stress on a daily basis. Most don’t know where to begin to access the information and services they need. Responses also uncovered a very narrow concept of optimal health (focused mainly on physical wellness). They are extremely concerned about crime and drugs in their community as well as the rigors of daily survival in their tough environments and whether the competition to achieve the American Dream is “rigged” against them. They recognized all of these circumstances as potential barriers to success.
“They wanted us to know they have inherent skills and talents but they need help in identifying and acting on opportunities to use them in a way that can take them from merely surviving to thriving,” said Juzang.
Said one young man in the report whose thoughts mirror those of his cohorts: “I worry a lot. Waking up in the morning I worry about what’s going to happen today? Who am I going to lose today, or am I going to get locked up? I worry about my family. I worry about saying the wrong things…different things like that, like just getting dressed and walking out the house before the day starts.”
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