Cities United 2015: Mayors and communities mobilize to decrease violence and improve outcomes for African American boys and men

Casey Family Programs was pleased to support the second Cities United convening, “Mobilizing for Change,” in Philadelphia, April 29 through May 1. Cities United is a national coalition of mayors and city officials working to decrease violence among African American boys and young men and increase their educational and employment opportunities.

Hosted by Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the City of Philadelphia, the convening was attended by 10 mayors and more than 300 attendees from 57 cities across the nation. Participants included government employees, educators, law enforcement officers, youth and philanthropies.

The purpose of the Cities United convening was to create opportunities for cities to learn from each other and to share strategies that are working to address the underlying causes of violence and improve economic and educational opportunities in communities.

The panel discussions, speakers and informal conversations ranged from high-level thoughts and analysis on race issues, to improving relationships between communities of color and law enforcement, to detailed technical assistance and sharing of effective programs and practices.

Dr. William C. Bell, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, is one of the founding partners of Cities United. He described how Cities United can play a leading role in shaping outcomes for at-risk youth across the country.

“Cities United is an opportunity for all mayors in this country to join together and unite their voices for change, to unite their voices to make a declaration to our children that we will not quit until every child has an opportunity, we will not quit until every child has a globally competitive education, we will not quit until every child has the hope that is life-sustaining,” Dr. Bell said.

A total of 76 cities have now committed to Cities United and pledged to decrease violence in their jurisdictions by half by the year 2020.

Mayor Nutter said the mayors of Cities United are working on creating opportunities, including high-quality education, summer jobs, and role models for young people, as well as addressing larger issues of income inequality, poverty, health and educational disparities.

“They’re all committed to restoring hope in our communities by building pathways to justice, employment, education and increased opportunity,” he said.

The mayors also spoke with President Barack Obama on a conference call about aligning Cities United with the My Brother’s Keeper effort and other ways the administration can support the goals of Cities United. In addition, the mayoral leaders issued a press release and held a press conference to describe the importance of their collaboration. Media coverage included a prominent story by NBC Philadelphia.

The meaningful dialogue, innovative ideas and momentum will carry forward throughout the year and at the 2016 convening, which will be hosted by Mayor William A. Bell and the City of Birmingham.