My Brother's Keeper initiative in Dubuque an early success - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

My Brother's Keeper initiative in Dubuque an early success

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Dubuque is just six months into the My Brother's Keeper initiative, and already they've seen some impressive results.

My Brother's Keeper is a White House initiative launched last fall, aimed at helping youth reach their potential -- particularly young men of color.

Dubuque's local action plan seeks to identify local disparities, looks to research based practices and leverage existing assets around three goals:

  • All children read at grade level by 3rd grade
  • All youth graduate from high school
  • All youth out of school are employed

At a meeting Wednesday to release that plan, three young men were touted as early success stories for the initiative.

Cameron Nelson will be a junior this year at Dubuque Senior High School.

He says shortly after he got involved with one of the more than a dozen participating programs, he was able to turn his Spanish grades around, something he says people around him were very proud of.

But beyond improving his scores, he had a new found hope for a bright future.

"I believe that people like me can achieve anything, no matter what color you are or what race you are, you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it," Nelson said.

He plans to major in history while playing basketball for a D-I or D-II college after he graduates high school.

Seventh-grader Demarrius Mays is another one who's had early success through the initiative.

He says his GPA went from 2.6 to a perfect 4.0 just two trimesters later. He's part of a dance team and basketball team, and is also learning valuable life lessons.

"Habits that we do right now are going to be the habits we do for the rest of our lives," Mays said.

And 8-year-old Eddie Russellbell has quickly turned into a class leader, Beth McGorry says.

"He takes care of his classmates," the outreach coordinator for St. Mark's Youth Enrichment said.

McGorry says this program has the potential to totally transform Dubuque in the next 10-15 years.

"I think it's going to be a community surrounded by people who cares about kids," she said. "And who wants to say no to a kid? And Dubuque never says no.

"I think our community will be stronger, we'll see a diverse group of people running the city, and you won't even be able to remember what it was like 15 years ago," McGorry added.

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