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One Rouge Community Check -In - Week 142

OneRouge Meeting #142 will be in keeping with the theme of Baton Rouge stories for Black History Month, we will be hearing from My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Baton Rouge. They will share their evolution, their current work, and of course how you can be involved.

Don’t know about MBK? You will! As a teaser, in 2014 former President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. It was intended to address the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color by focusing on education, workforce, and public safety needs. In 2021 Mayor Weston-Broome committed to and launched the Baton Rouge Chapter of MBK. Although it “exists to ensure the safety, well-being, and success of boys and young men of color in Baton Rouge”, by doing just those things, the natural and necessary outcome is addressing the growing number of neighborhoods in poverty

This conversation is about the work MBK Baton Rouge is doing by navigating the insurmountable odds that exist and helping young men reach their full potential. Our featured speakers are:

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Raymond Jetson: This conversation is about the evolution of My Brother's keeper in Baton Rouge, where we are, what it means, and most importantly how you can contribute to this effort. This story actually begins in the early years of Metamorphosis, 2012ish to 2015 timeframe when we were attempting to connect with the community in a number of different ways we. Coming up to a reality that was just so profound, we could not ignore it. And it was that Black boys and men were outliers in terms of outcomes, in far too many areas did not matter. If you were talking about education, if you were talking about workforce, business ownership criminal justice, system engagement life expectancy, Black boys and men were outliers in Baton Rouge, and this was not because there were not good people in the community doing good work. 100 Black Men was walking and rolling. Then, as they are now, we had a number of mentoring programs after school programs, fatherhood programs, but for some reason, these experiences were just too bold to ignore. And so, we convened a table of folks, presented some statistics and said, guys, this is what we are looking at. What do we do about it? And the planning team emerged from that included Adel Brown and Michael Victorian from 100 Black Men, George Bell who is now with the United Way, and just a number of other folks who gave of their time to ultimately convene what became the Urban Congress on African American males in Baton Rouge. And the Urban Congress existed from 2016 to 2019, focused on critical areas impacting Black boys and men in Baton Rouge; early childhood education, mentoring, health, education, workforce, and re-entry. And there were just some really powerful work groups happening. And then Covid happened, and it disrupted these monthly convenings. It created a pause and the momentum and interrupted the dialogues that were happening. And at that time, we were asking a question in Metamorphosis as well. We said that asking the question during covid of "How do I shift my work to a virtual platform" is the wrong question. The right question is, "what is my work now?" And so, we used that as a moment of reflection, had an opportunity to connect with the mayor, we did some listening session with Black boys and men in Baton Rouge about what worked best for them, and what emerged from that is going all in as Pepper described it on My Brother's Keeper. And so, we put a pause on the Urban Congress because we are not about just doing programs or doing things to do them, but ultimately it's about impact. And we believe that my Brother's Keeper offered the best opportunity. And so, with the mayor and the city support, we launched My Brother's Keeper. The effort had initially started in 2014. And there had been some previous iterations here. We led this conversation until April of 21. And after dialogues with the Y where we realized that the Y nationally had made an investment in the work with Black boys and men across the country. We found a willing partner in Christian Engle at the Y and a willingness to not only be a thought partner, but to actually lift up My Brother's Keeper and to be the home for My Brother's Keeper in Baton Rouge. And so, we went through this transition period, which gave us great joy because when we can start things that live on and are supported in the community, then we've done good stuff. And so, I'd like to take the opportunity to pass it to Christian to talk about what this all looked felt like, and became from his perspective.

Christian Engle: I'm the president CEO here for the YMCA. I've been with the YMCA for about 32, actually 33 years this year, but have been in Baton Rouge for the last six. And, to Raymond's point, kind of began as a conversation, I think initially between he and I and Luke St. John McKnight, who I think is on this call as well, who we started having this kind of conversation of what it would look like. And for me, it started both professionally and personally. So, from a personal standpoint I have two nephews that are African American, and so I spend a lot of time with them and see the things that they deal with and the things that they go through. And some very good friends of mine who also are African American, that have shared with me some of their stories. One of the things that became apparent to me, and I've actually been told this by several people and I guess I've begun to embrace it is, as a white male in a role that is somewhat prominent in the city, it was really up to me to step up that I needed to lend a voice to this and I needed to make sure that not only myself personally, but as a YMCA, that we were providing a voice to this. So, I started talking to people at Y U S A Michael Duval, who is the head of our initiative at YUSA around boys and young men of color, which is an initiative the Y launched a few years back. He started the My Brothers Keepers program in Charlotte, North Carolina. And he's become a right hand person for myself and Jeremy, who I'll introduce here in a minute of what this means and what does the work look like and what are the resources needed. So about three years ago, I began working with our board here on what this might mean. How could we support it? How could we lift it up? What does it look like? And was able to get our board to approve using percentages from our endowment. We have an endowment with Baton Rouge Area Foundation to help lift this work up and to make sure that we were going to be in it for the long haul, not just for a short time. That we could make sure that we could give it the due diligence it needed to make sure that it was moving forward. So, once we got that in place, then it became finding the right person to really help us run it and be our face for the program and keep it moving forward. And we were very fortunate to come across Jeremy Miller, who is going to take over here in just a second. Who is above and beyond just the My Brothers Keepers program and Boys of Young Men of Color. Jeremy is our Executive Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. So, this work is going to evolve way beyond that. And I have been asked by people why is the Y doing this? What does it mean? And I have to remind people that this is how the Y started, right? We started as an organization that was getting young men off the street and out of trouble and into more healthful and spiritual activities. And in the mid 18 hundreds, around 1854, 55, Anthony Bowen actually started the first African American YMCA and brought that initiative together. And eventually in 1905, it actually became its first branch in Washington DC. So, there are several of these YMCAs that were started across the country. Going all the way back to 1855. And then in addition to that, even here in Baton Rouge, we have the Branco Clarke Y, which is an old South Baton Rouge, which was originally started as a YMCA for the African American community. And so, we've been involved in this work for decades. Just maybe not lifting it up at the point that we should. And so that's where we are today, is really making sure that we're putting a footprint on this. But with that, I'll turn it over to Jeremy to introduce himself and bring everybody up to speed on what's going on.

Jeremey Miller: Oftentimes I'm asked, what exactly is my Brothers Keeper, BR or MBKBR. It's not another program, but it's a cross set network of champions. Like many of you on this call this morning we are committed to seeing our boys and young men of color thrive and be successful. Simply put, we also work alongside Chili Fernandez, she's the national coach for the South, for the Obama's MBK Alliance. She's helping us establish ourselves as a nationally recognized M B K community. I get to work alongside a phenomenal group of people every day on our steering committee where we'll focus on three action tables, education, which is chaired by Mr. Education, Darius Lanis Public Safety, which is chaired by the Safe Hope for Healthy Initiative out of Mayor -President Broom's Office, and Workforce Development, which is chaired by Dr. Gerard Melancon. At this time, I'm going to pass it over to them so they can speak more about the action tables and the work that we're currently doing. I'm going to pass it to Dr. Gerard first. Then we'll hear from Ms. Matthews. And then Ms. Judy speak on behalf of education this morning in in the absence of Dennis.

Dr. Girard Melancon: I'm co-chairing, so my other co-chair is Darryl Lewis. So, what we've been working on, really, this has been going on for a couple years, is trying to remove the friction from the out-of-school youth funding stream at Employ BR, Mayor Broome's administration moves to streamline the processes and put some good people in the right places. So that has merged, and we are starting a pilot program. Hopefully everything should be up and going by April, May. And it's going to be a modified out-of-school JAG program. Leveraging that, we owe an out-of-school youth money for a target of 30 to 35 young adults, 18 to 24 in particular. So, we're trying, that will also the OJT opportunities also the. Between progressive nonprofits industry-based credentialing and OJT on-the-job training funding through Columbia. So in a nutshell, that's from a point where we're getting to the long-term goal is just to figure out the pathway of young adults in EBR graduating into a more graduating and exiting into structure after high school and tightened the coupling by leveraging the jack model and the out-of-school youth money and tightened that coupling so individuals have options, choices, and further connectivity towards their life goals after high school. In a nutshell, that's where we are. The nonprofits that we're working with, being willing to go through this Guinea pig period phase of things so other providers will have smoother transition to leverage these funding streams moving forward. But kudos to mayor Broome for in her administration setting the stage and already be quietly behind the scenes making stuff possible to make this work. And also, Regional Johnson from the Department of Labor. He's over the JAG program. He's also been a champion who's been working quietly behind the scenes too for this project.

Jazzika Matthews: I'm the director for Safe, Local, Healthy out of Mayor Broom's Office. Safe, Local, Healthy is an initiative that focuses on community based public safety and bringing community into the work of public safety because we understand that law enforcement is not able to do all of the work alone. Often law enforcement is used reactionary. They're there to react to an incident. And so Safe, Local, Healthy is in place to try to intervene and prevent violence before it happens. For us, sitting at the MBK table is very important because we understand that Black men and boys are the disproportionately affected by violence. And the things that we do through Safe, Local, Healthy hopefully will address the needs of Black men and boys. And so, where we are now presently with Safe, Local, Healthy is that we convene monthly in an ecosystem of public safety. And again, what that is really everyone bringing their skills, their talents, what they do best into the space, and understanding that the work that they do affects the safety, the wellness of our community. And so, we just ask people to bring the best of them in that room, we ideate. And from that room comes plans, and so we meet every third Tuesday of the month downtown at five o'clock. We do a dinner opportunity for networking and people to get to know each other within the community. And then the time after that is spent often with national providers telling us about best practices and then also, like I said, ideating and coming up with ideas that can further the work of the ecosystem. Also Safe, Local, Healthy is focused on community-based public safety. We have made a handsome investment in that space. We have stood up, helped support standing up an organization called Agile Planning Solutions as they started the Baton Rouge Community Street team. And so, the Baton Rouge Community Street team is comprised of credible messengers within the city. Folks who are from the most affected communities and have lived experience. They use that lived experience to intervene in violence, to mediate violence, and also mentor individuals who are at the greatest high risk of violence. And so that is one of our projects. The other project that we are presently focused on completing is some work that we're doing with EBR public schools. It's called SODA. It stands for School Outreach Dream Academy. Soda has three components. One of those components is school-based outreach. What that looks like is having licensed clinicians inside the school doing non-traditional work with youth, so building relationships with them inside the school, but then when 2:30, 3 o'clock hits, they're still working with those youth outside of the four walls of the school and working with their families. And so, we're happy to be able to partner with healthcare centers and schools to do that work. The other part, component is the Safe, Local, Healthy classroom, which is a partnership between Big Buddy and the Work Done Foundation. Safe, Local, Healthy classroom is in part career development and training, which is led by Big Buddy. And the other part is social emotional learning and support, which the Work Done Foundation have a curriculum that addresses that. We are focused on ninth graders within the Safe, Local, Healthy classrooms and the schools. The schools that Soda is presently in are Istrouma High School, McKinley High School, Scotlandville Magnet, Glen Oaks, and Capital. And then finally, the final piece of soda that we are standing up and presently doing it in two schools, we have something called Safe Passage. So I talked about those credible messengers with the street team, previously, and what Safe Passage is that those credible messengers are at the school supporting youth and getting to school safely and leaving school safely. So, they're there at the high hours. They're there in the morning when kids are coming. They're there at lunch during lunch hour, and then they're there when kids are leaving. They've actually been doing that at Capital High for two years. And there have been, there's been wonderful feedback about that because that is the opportunity for our street team members to build genuine relationships with kids and their families and they're able to intervene. And so, we are trying to roll Safe Passage out at multiple schools. Now, so those, that's some of what Safe, Local, Healthy is doing.

Judy Touzin: I'm speaking on behalf of Darius, who's not able to join us this morning. But very briefly, as others have shared, these conversations have been happening for a while and what was identified a couple of months back was a focus on ACT access and preparedness. As Darius would share if you were here, studies show that actually ACT performance is a great gatekeeper for a lot of young people, but especially for young men of. And depending on how you score, perform, it completely limits what spaces you have access to post-secondary wise if you aspire to go to college. And the 100 Black Men working in partnership with E B R schools and several other organizations across the city has been working to be able to also stand up a program that offers greater access to folks, right? Not necessarily having to pay for it, which is often a barrier for young people being able to get the development and preparation that they need. And also looking to be able to start that work as early as seventh grade with the idea being that exposure and repeated attempts help to increase and build not just confidence, but capacity and able to do well. And so that is their current focus. I think as a couple of people has also shared this work is beginning and evolving, right? And so while ACT has been identified as the first work of the action table, part of the reason for this conversation is to continue to hear from those who are doing the work in different ways, in different spaces, to be able to make sure that what we are targeting and working towards are the most important and high leverage aspects for the young men across our city especially our young men in middle and high school. So, I will end there and then turn it back to Jeremy.

Jeremey Miller: So, like I told y'all before, I'm working with some phenomenal leaders here. We are thankful to be in this position to continue to move this work forward. We just want to come on and share a little bit about what we are doing right now, where we come from and where we are today. Where My Brothers Keeper, Baton Rouge, we have our community summit coming up on February 27th. I'm going to drop the link here in a chat. Please rsvp if you plan on if you want to attend. It's at the Goodwill Library, February 27th from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM limited space. Of course, it's at the library, but we would love to have everyone there, especially if you're committed to the work for our boys and young men of color. We thank you guys for your time and we appreciate this.

Pepper Roussel: I'm giving you a round of applause with my virtual clap. The work that y'all are doing collectively is absolutely impressive and I cannot say enough how much I love hearing these stories in during Black History Month. We all know how I feel about the single story that we got going every year, and for y'all to be doing this work all year round and to be able to share is really super important to me. We do have a couple of questions in the chat that I want to start off with. It's the first one is for any of the panelists, what is a key lesson learned about doing this?

Dr. Girard Melancon: I'll probably say for me because I, think I've probably been around quite a bit, I think it's just ongoing. It's in patience, but also healthy tension throughout the process and just keep things moving and just try to keep people engaged. Some of the conversations we've been working on some of the things we've been trying to do, it's been started and stopped, and lot of different things just haven't worked out is for a lot of different reasons, but at least we haven't been repeating the same mistakes. So, I think it's just the space of this kind of being one, just keep pushing and not giving up even to get it to this point. And keeping your core members engaged throughout the process. And I think that's it's been a lesson learned for me, but it's some patients, but also at the same time, some inpatients throughout the process and not get paralyzed and give up.

Raymond Jetson: I will, first of all, agree with everything that Gerard has said. The different perspective that I would offer is that the lesson learned is to take the time to help to inform people that you are inviting them to a space that's based upon their work, rather than asking them to come and do a new work, to do a new thing. MBK doesn't have individual programming itself. These action tables are intended to invite and create space for people who are already doing work. To do it in proximity with others and to do it in service to a shared aspiration and some collective impact in a particular area. So MBK doesn't have its own individualized work, it has areas of focus. But just as Gerard pointed out and Jazzika as she so eloquently spoke, Safe, Hopeful, and Healthy, and Judy in the education, these are things that are already happening that MBK seeks to create a proximity and a collective ability to act on the share of others.

Pepper Roussel: Brilliant. Not that anybody has my opinion, but I'm just going to say that by allowing folks to lean in deeply to where they already are and not add work to their plates, really is, I believe, one of the most effective ways of actually getting things done. There is another question that I want to say Judy's already fielded, but I want to lift it up in case there are those of us who are on our phones and maybe aren't reading the chat. And the question is, "what resources do you need in order to be added to this work for greater impact?" is it money? Is it people? Is it time?

Christian Engle: Yes, to all of the above, right? We need everything. I think to the other comments, and even on the prior question, I think that's where the Y is help helping in the manner of creating the platform, creating website, cocreating the staff person to try to help lead and run it. But at the end of the day, there's, and George said this, and Raymond did too, there's a lot of people doing a lot of stuff. Our goal is how do we bring all that stuff together to either make it a louder voice, a more impactful voice, whatever that begins to look like. But yeah, Jeremy can attest to this, we're chasing grants, we're talking to donors, we're looking for more people to get involved. All of those things. And I think the start and stop that people talked about happens because people jump on and jump off. We're looking for people to jump on and keep pushing forward, right? There's a lot of great work going on out there. Everything Gerard talked about is stuff that's been going on and the stuff he's championing. We're just trying to help, how do we bring a voice to that, right? So, we want to get as many people to the table to help us push these things forward. And at the end of the day, it's always going to take additional funding. I think all of us that are in the nonprofit world know that there's never an endless supply of money, right? You're always chasing what's the next donor? What's the next grant? What's the next opportunity? And I think so to very generically answer that question. It's really everything. It's all of the above.

Casey Phillips: I would love to jump in for a question for Dr. Melancon and Girard knows this question is coming. Yeah, Christian, you're right. There is always need for fundraising. But then there's another side of this. There's the money that we've been giving back, right? There is a lot of funding that our state and our city does not effectively spend, and we have to give that money back to Washington, DC because we can't get through the red tape and actually get it to the people that they want. So, this is a question down into the weeds, right? So, for everybody that doesn't care, then multitask for a moment. So, Gerard, you have been pushing on this for a long time. It is complex and it does start with the federal government, right? On the policy and the way that it trickles down into our city. It creates a lot of a lot of challenges, right? But with the challenges, there's an opportunity. And specifically around at-risk youth, which you have been working on for well over a decade. Explain to me how this is a new day? How the committee has, how this action table has been able to cut through that red tape and get this to the point where we can actually get those, we owe a dollars onto the ground and work with these 30 to 35 at risk youth. Talk us through it. Gimme an update.

Dr. Girard Melancon: Yeah. So with some of this, we may just need to take off line, but I like I mentioned before, there are federal regs and there's certain things that are pigeonholed. There's that 70% out-of-school youth, 30% in-school youth, a mandate and then states can apply, which we have applied for 50, 50, 50% in school, 50% out of school from 16- to 24-year-olds. But even with all of those certain things set in stone, there were things that we identified that some of the friction just happened on. Kind of city policies and procedures and personnel not really aligned in the best way at over the years. And the key thing the Fed work causing that problem was just internal processes caused a lot of friction, not the right hand, not having a good understanding of what the left hand is doing. Out of that, there's changes have been made to correct the alignment of personnel. And that has really helped with processes, with applications, with somebody coming into the office to say, I want an individual training account. This is the process, and if there's a problem, this is a person you follow up with. And so, some of that stuff is done. This is actually gotten in the line. Now what we're trying to do is just get the pilot going and just see where there's a lot, there's other policies that need to be changed and some of the stuff I really don't want to put it on open just because there's certain things that just need to work quietly behind the scenes on contractual eligibility for youth and some other little factors that city policy kind of eliminates and removes some youth that we're trying to target at the same time. We're working on that with the committee. We know where those friction points are, just getting some of the we have leadership of buy-in. It's just working the process now, but the days of people with who are typically would be eligible and we've seen it. We'll send 20 people over there and maybe one person or 20 will get an individual training count. A lot of that stuff has been eliminated, identified and really this pilot is working, it's solidifying that. So, if Walls sends somebody over, the process to be the same for you, for Front Yard Bikes, for Empower 225, and then if there is feedback too. If they don't go, how does it immediately remediate it at the same time? And that's communicated back to the partners, to individuals and all the back and forth that participants is eliminating. So that's basically where we are. And like I said, a lot of stuff we could talk a little bit offline. But there's pretty much the alignment with personnel and procedures has been submitted by really in the past couple of weeks.

Casey Phillips: I will continue to encourage all those conversations to be out in public. Cause I understand the delicateness of getting things done behind the scenes. I always respect that. But whenever you're ready to apply the public pressure, the capital region workforce ecosystem is about to converge on it. The pressure will be coming from both sides. Yeah.

Dr. Girard Melancon: And when they get to that point, we'll let you know. We want to get the people that are paid to do the work every day, the opportunity to do the work. And they have been. They have to set it up to the plate. But there may be a time they need support and at that time we'll be reaching out. And that's the beauty of this work is collective action. It is just working the processes and then collectively when we need that collective support. Jeremy will be the first one to give you a call or I'll call you on particular issues.

Casey Phillips: I love that. Thank you for that. And shout out for Leslie Chambers. That human gets things done and she's also incredibly nice on both sides. Jazzika, I want to flip it over to you. You got a lot of people on this call that I know consistently. We have dialogue. They're always looking for new community partners, especially not the usual suspects. And every time that I've engaged on SHH, which isn't as often as I'd like to be able to break bread in those evening meetings, are there a few organizations that have really emerged, individuals or organizations that really stand out to you, that maybe you would just like to lift up for this community to know about, to be able to get behind and support the work that they're doing?

Jazzika Matthews: Well, yes. In the space of Safe, Local, Healthy for sure, and I think as of late Agile Planning Solutions has been more on the forefront and folks are meeting and knowing the work of Satir Tate Alexander and her team. But I do want to lift her up as a in her organization as one that has stepped up to the play in a way that I don't think any other organization that was grassroots was able to do or even willing to go through the trials and tribulations that it takes to work with city government honesty. And so, she has endured and she is now, her organization now is really very much at the forefront for us when it comes to standing up the public safety, the community based public safety piece. I also do in this space. And I and we speak to a lot of different orgs and lately I had a really great conversation with a CC house. If you're familiar with Leslie Grover and Dr. Hines I had a wonderful conversation with them LA last week about around the healing work that they have been doing with our street team. And so, we are for Safe, Local, Healthy moving into this focus on creating spaces of healing for people who are doing this very difficult work of dealing with violence on a daily basis. And so, Assisi House has interesting modalities and how they do that. And so, I do want to definitely highlight the work that they do. And we are at safe hope and healthy exploring how we can expand upon how we partner with that group of folks. Also change the organization led by Ms. Liz Robinson. A mother who lost her son to gun violence. She quietly gives support to families in the most difficult times of their life. When there is an incident, she is often contacting that mother, that family, and then days later at the door with food or a flower, a letter of bereavement. She even makes earrings. If you see Ms. Liz, she always has a pair of earrings with her son on those earrings. There's not a day that you won't see her with some type of paraphernalia with Louis Badass, that's his name on. But she will create that for these mothers. And that is just something that I think that is just special that she does. And I think I want I want to highlight her in that moment. This moment. Who else? There's we have tons of great folks who dig in Roy Shannon, that's an individual. You all know squeak. The entre, the entrepreneur slash club promoter. He has become one of our major force in violence prevention. He's utilizing his experience as a club promoter, someone who was in the space and meeting all the people. He uses that now to really dig in there and make a difference. We look at him as a high-risk interventionist. And so when there are incidents, squeak is sometimes on the scene or he is having conversations with the families and folks trying to stop future incidents and things like that. That's an individual. And then also and here's another one. It's like we have some unusual suspects. These folks who were partiers or DJs and things, tj, dj. Terrell Jackson is also working in this violence inter intervention space. He's creating opportunities for conversations. We just unfortunately have the incident at dejure nightclub. And with that, TJ and Roy are quietly having conversations with club promoters and security and all of those things because we don't want to see incidents like that happen. So, I hope I named enough people. There's, I hate naming lists because there's great people. No, that's Thomasina. I can't think of Miss Thomasina's last name, but she is one of our folks who graduated from the safe neighborhoods piece of the work and she's always present. And doing something interesting. I hope that's enough.

Casey Phillips: Of course, thank you so much. When you name off people doing great work, it's not the exclusion of others. It's just that in the moment, that's who comes to mind. Feel free if you have contact information for any of those individuals with their organizations, please drop it into the chat. And we'll circulate it to everybody. That's how new alliances are made, right, is you're like, oh, I've heard about that person for the third time. I'm going to reach out to that person and grab a meal or a cup of cup of coffee together. And that's how you build trust together. So, Jazzika, thank you. And Gerard, thank you for your candidness. As always, when you come on the call, Pepper back to you.

Pepper Roussel: If y'all have any questions that haven't been asked or answered, please drop them in the chat so that I can work back to them. Second, but not nearly important, we have heard a lot about how there is violence that's being addressed in the community. And of course that is exactly the thing that we want to, I shudder to use the term save our young Black boys and men from however we are also clear and understand that there is a clear, that there's a correlation between poverty and violence, right? So, if you can't get a job, if you don't have stable housing, if you can't get to the job because you do have to walk that mile and a half in the rain after the bus drops you off and you don't have stable transportation, all of those things make things a lot more difficult. Alfreda Tilman Bester mentioned something in the chat earlier and I'd just like to say all three names.

Alfreda Tilman Bester: I just want to commend all of the all of the advocates for what they do. I think that we have to, as someone else started to say, continue to demand that our elected officials address the needs of the community. We can't continue to demonize people because of poverty. We have to address the issues that keep them in poverty. And I'll stop with that.

Pepper Roussel: What are the things that y'all are seeing that are putting this population at greater risk? Is it the same stuff we've been seeing? Is it new stuff? Is it just post covid that there are these additional weights? What, how are we still here after all these years and all this work with all these hands trying to move this forward?

Raymond Jetson: I will jump in and say that I believe that one of the reasons that we remain in this. We see so many of the challenges that we face in our community, repeating themselves because we become infatuated with moments and not the impact of movements. We, we are attracted to the latest flashing in the pan. The theme that, that looks like a problem. And we are often not deliberative enough to really look at the root causes and where things are really happening in communities. It takes time to really bring change. You can't have an educational system where less than 50% of black boys who make it to ninth grade graduate for 10 years and not expect to have. Especially when those boys who are unable to graduate from high school go into a workforce development system that is dysfunctional, doesn't know how to embrace them, does not have strategies in place to redirect their lives in a constructive way. And where they do exist, they don't have transportation to get there. They don't have money to pay for things that are required of them. None of these things happen in a vacuum. They are all inextricably related to one another. And so, it requires a holistic approach over an extended period of time. But unfortunately, we are an impatient lot.

Christian Engle: Everything Raymond just said is right on. And the other part of it, I think too, and Raymond's heard me say this in meetings and I've always I've gone to him a couple times. I said, was it okay that I said that? Because I'll say it sometimes in meetings and I'm maybe wonder should, I've said it in that meeting, but I get frustrated sometimes. But I think a lot of it too is that and I give Casey a lot of credit for bringing this group together, but we very seldom talk is one voice, right? We're a hundred nonprofits saying the same thing in a hundred different locations versus a unified voice in one opportunity. And I think that's a challenge, or quite frankly, sometimes we prop up a nonprofit instead of propping up all of the nonprofits that are doing great work in the community and in different things. And I've been in some meetings here over the last six months with a, an extremely powerful group of people and have gotten. Outwardly frustrated that they're voicing the opinion of one nonprofit versus the opinion of 50 or a hundred nonprofits. So how do we bring that together and how do we bring that voice together? And I think, again from our standpoint, and people have heard me say this privately and publicly, for me, I'm trying to figure out how do we bring the power of the wide brand to support everybody, right? We have a national voice. I'm in DC next week, I've got four meetings with four different senators that a lot of people couldn't get, but I can get them because of just the voice of our national brand. Same thing even here locally and stuff like that. So, a lot of these conversations that we're having, especially since we've started this, my Brothers Keeper initiative is really trying to get people to provide support that will allow us to support others, right? That it's not just about us. It's about how do we bring everybody to the table and. I think that's just I think it's a shift in thinking in some level. And I do, I honestly go back to when these one rouge calls started. I believe Casey, that was your initial intent, was to try to figure out how do we all come together and work together to, to better Baton Rouge. And I think the more that we embrace that, I think the more powerful we can be. But I think if we continue to attack things as individual entities I think it just struggles. And Jeremy's been successful with a couple of programs because he's come to me and we're supporting other entities with our grant dollars, right? There's this flow down piece, but we're able to get funds that other places wouldn't necessarily be able to get to just by the sheer nature of the logo that's on our building or the somebody wants their name attached to a national brand versus just a local entity. So it's, I think again, it's just how do we work together more to really do that? And the other thing too, and I said this on the Greenville trips, I know Casey heard me say it, but education if we don't really address education in not just Baton Rouge, but in Louisiana we're never going to get out of this cycle. And I think at some point we really have to take a strong stance on education. And I say this out loud, that is a transplant to Louisiana. Had my daughter not been a senior when we moved here, we probably wouldn't have moved here. Just because of the education system. And I think that's a, it's, that's got to be front and center. And I think we continue to dance around it. We don't we're not knocking on the right doors to really address that. There's, to Casey's standpoint on a number of things, a lot of red tape around that and all that's doing is hurting the kids in our community.

Manny Patole: I wasn't going to mention it, but in the legal sense Christian opened the door. So will ask it. There's a lot said about of building community and collective action and items like that. And the idea of how do you create a collective voice? And this was something I asked in other meetings before and it doesn't always fall the way that I like it, but I have to put the voice of dissension in some air to start the conversation, which is, yes, you all want to work together and yes, you all have a same voice, which is the greater good of Baton Rouge, right? But when you're starting to work together, how are you actually working well together? So, the idea is you have many organizations that have their territories, right? They have their lanes, however you want to call it, but how do you start understanding that creating a new organization may not the best thing rather than putting your resources or backing another organization or working with others that are doing this stuff so that you're not necessarily diluting that pool. And I think that's, it's not exclusive to any place, right? This is always a concern within the nonprofit realm, right? If you want to go back to the root of this, right? You can go back to the Washington consensus, Reaganomics, Thatcher era of moving away from the role of government as being this social safety net. But we can't go. We can't turn time back. So just looking at that going forward, how do we start leveraging some of this work together? But not only, and sometimes it could be at the expense of our own organizations if we may, pushing this stuff forward, but how does that conversation get approached? And I think too, to Christian's other point about the education, I think I was taking a step further and I would say understanding better, who's your tax base? You have some industries there that make a lot of money. The question is, are they paying their fair share if to do their work? So that's it.

Judy: I think I just want to maybe build on or stamp some of the things that have been shared in the responses so far about why are we still here and what will it take for us to move forward. I think to Raymond's point this idea of moment verse movement, this is long haul work. This is generational work. And I think we're sometimes we want that quick fix or the short win. And when we don't see it, we're. We despair, right? Or we're frustrated or we throw in the towel and when we encounter the red tape, right? It is frustrating. It feels like people actually aren't invested in change or the system is accomplishing exactly what it's set out to do. And that stuff is fatiguing right? For people who are waking up every single day really trying to work towards change. And so, it's definitely the movement, right? And not just the moment. I also think to Christian's point this idea of the we over the eye, right? Not at the expense of the eye, but over the eye, right? What can we fuel together that we actually couldn't possibly fuel alone? That is like the core of collective action. That's the core or the idea around catalytic partnerships, right? I think and talk a lot about even the partnership that Casey and Raymond had, that when Covid hit, they were already believing in each other and supporting each other, so it made sense to figure out how do we get the city on a. So, we can figure out how to work together to resolve some of these things. That is what this work needs, right? People who are so invested in something bigger than themselves, that it enables them to look past the individual thing that's at stake and really go all in for each other and for the work. To your point, Manny, about but when we bring all the people together, how do we actually hold that space in the collective? Work, and this is not just specific to MBK, but one Rouge and the coalitions and all the other cross sector things that are happening across the city. You've got to build the container for change, right? And that means holding space for the relationship part of the work and the conversations, and also the day-to-day project management, deep backbone stuff. And you can't do that without infrastructure, right? So Christian's commitment to this, and not just saying it in Word, but actually funding a position, a full time position in Jeremy Miller who can focus day in and day out on talking with people, figuring out what the needs and the interests and the work of the individual folks who are coming to the table is actually mission critical. And a lot of the times we come together, but we don't figure out how to garner the resources to build the infrastructure to actually keep the work on the rails. And so, I think what makes me hopeful and confident about what we're starting here with MBKBR is the investment, right? Not just in Word, not just in time, but in resources, right? And like putting a stake in the ground that we're going to do this work. And the last thing that I will say, part of what keeps. Some of these problems in place. Is that we aren't always bringing the system into the room or the system to the table. What I'm so inspired about with the work that Gerard and Workforce have been able to do by bringing the system in the room and his partners with Big Buddy, Front Yard Bikes, WEO a Jag EBR, that helped to illuminate the systems problems. that are a part of this work. And so, we keep saying this is not just a program collective action. Real change requires you being able to see the system and figure out what are the policies, what are the practices, what are the structures that are actually impeding our ability to move the work on behalf of the people that we love and serve in the way that it needs to be moved. And if they didn't get all the right people in the room and in the conversation, they might not have been able to see all this money that keeps going back to the federal government. They might not have been able to see the paperwork hang up. That's a part of the city bureaucracy, right? And so, they're working together to move those things. And so yes, it's a movement, not a moment. You need the collective to be able to think about the, we, not at the expense of the eye, but over the eye. You need to build the infrastructure and you've got to have an eye towards systems, structures and policies and do it for the long haul. And if we can do that, not just my Brothers Keeper and our black boys, but all these One Rouge coalitions and all the people who love Baton Rouge and are giving themselves forward every day. We'll actually see the needle move over time. But if we don't do those four things, we're going to be here 10 years from now having the same conversation. Ooh,

Christian Engle: I wanted to just highlight something that Manny said too, and also Judy as well, that Judy of course mentioned the why in the backbone of MBK. The ultimate goal is MBK becomes of his own entity, right? That's the ultimate goal is that we're helping to build something that eventually at some point we're going to go, great, you're ready. Go live in the world on your own, right? And I think in all of these conversations that's real, what really it should look like. And I got to be careful how I say this because I could get myself in trouble too. But I would much prefer for an entrepreneurial spirit man, go talk to Casey. Come talk to me, come talk to. Big Buddy or Boys and Girls Club or entities that are already there in existence that might be able to help and support you and lift up what you're doing versus you trying to go out and do all this on your own. We've already got the nonprofit thing in place. We've already got HR and payroll and marketing and web development, and all that stuff is done, right? So, it's really, man, bring that entrepreneurial spirit on board. I don't know too many of the, I'll just say the larger nonprofits, Metamorphosis One Rouge, everybody that was like, yeah let's have that conversation. We can only help each other. Versus again, more and more of these like nonprofits popping up all the time and we're all butting heads and stuff is how do we bring that voice together so that we can not only lift it, but just help support each other And it, at the end of the day, I think that's what it should be all about. We're in a great partnership with Three O'clock Project and Top Box and even Casey's organizations around food and we're a space that's, it's really all we're providing is a space and a resource, and everybody else is doing the work and the energy behind it. But that doesn't happen without the conversation, right? If the four of us would've just said, Hey, we're going to go do this all on our own. It's not at the level that it becomes. And now all of a sudden doors are opening up for other opportunities with other agencies and just growing and expanding from there. But it, it took us all coming together and having this conversation. And again, I'll speak for the Boys and Girls Club, Big Buddy, the Y, there's a brand that exists there that's this national brand that is, and everybody's faced every day that you don't have to reinvent. How do you take advantage of that? And if you have entities out there that are willing to let you, very poor choice of words here, but take advantage of them, man, why wouldn't you? Like, why wouldn't you go, Hey, let's at least have the conversation. And I know with Casey, and I talk all the time, and sometimes we get excited about stuff and sometimes we're like, eh, let's talk let's talk next month. But you never move forward if you never have that conversation, right? Nothing else happens if you don't at least sit in the room and have that conversation. And I just feel like too often people are trying to go out and do their own thing versus, man let me go talk to somebody that's already in this world. And how do I make that bigger? How do I make that better? And I just think, I think there's a lot of missed opportunities. And Manny, I probably, not everything that you meant, or even everything you said, but just that whole idea of how do we work together, to me that's where it starts.

Casey Phillips: So, Ms. Pat. I want to echo what Pepper just said. Thank you m bk thank y'all for the work that you do, of course, holding space today. But the years and years of work that you all have sunk into this community I just want to make sure and say yes and to Jazzika that when you work inside the city, you're not always getting phone calls and people saying what a great job you're doing. So, I want to make sure that we say that out loud right now. Jeremy, it's been a pleasure having you in this in this work. So Pat, I want to make sure and bring up because there was something concerning that you put in the chat about money being given back. And I want to make sure and give light to that so in case there's anybody on this call that can help that from happening.

Pat LeDuff: So, we had an opportunity to go into, it wasn't East Baton Rouge Parish, it was actually Baker. We had $50,000 for a youth leadership program for middle school and just got tied up in red ca tape with the school board. And the money ended up going back. And so, we wrote a grant for the Scotlandville Plaza, 25,000. We got the money, we got to go get healthy 25,000, which is a $50,000. You can't get the project off the road, off the ground. It's four years. Just red tape. And so, I hear all of the comments, which I welcome newcomers and I know you make it taught to me saying this, but 30 years in. I've been patient. Our group has been patient. We've been diligent working. But Judy said something, if you don't bring everybody together with one voice on the same page we had someone to step up and do $5 million for the grocery store and it's tied up because there's a cloudy title. When do we get behind that type of project to say with a public voice enough, it's enough. I know it's political. I know it's people not getting paid enough, but all of us were for free, right? We volunteer. So, where's the group that come in that's being paid? Somebody said, allow the people the opportunity to work. That's a good idea, but at the end of the day, they're still not working for the end result, which is something that's tangible that you can put your hand on other than that, we're just going around in circles and I'm available people want to hear about where we are and what we've done for the last 30 years. And yes, we have improved. We have come a long way. We wouldn't be in the position that we're now had not Scotlandville, CDC and CADAV been working for 30 years. We've opened a lot of gates. We've paved a lot of roads for a lot of people at the table. But at the end of the day, I don't think for 30 years of me giving up all my time and sacrificed for my family, my job, that we have come far enough.

Casey Phillips: We all learn from each other, right? Even us that have some gray in the beard I learned every week. So last week I was challenged by a friend, Alfredo Cruz to not shy away. Believe it or not, Jordan, I actually have learned not to always say it. And, but he challenged me. He was like, put name, say the name, speak the truth. What is the agency that's holding it back? So therefore, I'm learning from my friend Alfredo. So, you are talking about it's mired and red tape. Let's take it one at a time. The grocery store. And then Baker, to be honest, this said you already named the school board, so I got it. But what is holding back the Scotlandville Plaza and what's holding back? What's the, where's the red tape at with the grocery store.

Pat LeDuff: Build Baton Rouge. So, we moved everything from Office of Community Development to Build Baton Rouge. Took care of office community development. We're right at the pit of going over and then Chris leaves. Okay? Then we start with Tasha, and then Tasha got us getting where we need to be. And then now Tasha's gone. And so now we met yesterday with a group of folks and to explain to them really in a long version of what I just said to you, it's enough. We work for free. You should be saying, Hey, you guys have done an awesome job with the foundation. Let's go ahead and make this happen. But then to do the cloud title now we got $500,000 from Cleo for pre-development. And they're saying now that the work for the cloud title probably will cost about 50,000. If you're going to lose 500,000. And then I say the people that really want to make it help work, why is it costing us 50,000? There's some folk that getting paid, but there's some folk that should be able to have some favors that they pull within the political realm. That's not me, right? But where are those folk that can say, how do we come together and make that property next on City Highway next to the Palisade? How do we get clear title on that? Make it happen? Okay. All right.

Casey Phillips: So, on that one right there, you met Kendra Hendricks, yet have not. Okay, so I'm, there's a warrior now at Build Baton Rouge. Her name is Kendra Hendricks. She's incredible. She's patient. But she gets things done. And she just started last Monday. And she's not a person that says, Hey, I need to be in the seat forever. She'll be down to meet up with you. So, I'd like to give you that with build connect with Kendra. And I think if I don't know her exact title, but I believe it's in around economic development, and this would be in her realm. As said, I just want to make sure and lift it up if anybody else on the call has some suggestions for Pat. Damn it, she deserves our help. So, does anybody does anybody have anything that they can maybe help Pat with Scotlandville? Because that's awesome that Kelly and Jared gave that funding for that would Geaux Get Healthy shout out for that. What else can this, what else can this team.

Lynn Hakeem: I grew up in Scotlandville. My mother still lives in Scotlandville. People tell me, Lynn, you're everywhere. I'm everywhere because there's so much intersectionality and everything that we do, and sometimes it's hard to find which thing I want to touch the most, but to bring a grocery store in Scotlandville, that should have been there a long time ago, right? Call me. Tell me how I can help. Because I think if we don't get the people in Scotlandville behind you, and if that means going to every church, every Sunday, knocking on every door I'm good for the street wall. So Yes. Yes. Yes.

Pat LeDuff: And we need a design. So, the Southern, the LSU students took us on as a project for two years, and they gave us a five students, gave us a design for that plaza. We're needing someone to take on that project of giving us a solidified design from the five designs because the designs were based on what the community said they wanted. But those five designs have to be condensed to one design. So, we can get going. Okay. We can help us get that done right, but we got to do some leg work and some other kind of work. Because people got to be behind you. And when people know that you are fighting like that for them, they got to come. Yeah. And they're there. They're there and they're saying, what now, pat? And I'm like, I don't know. Somebody else is going to have to come to the table.

Casey Phillips: Thank you. Hey Pat, I'm sending you we, we had a similar project with LSU School of Architecture and you basically have to get these concept designs to an actual design that you can bring and to be able to get stamped and move it forward. And there's a really great firm here that actually has in-house, they can do a design build from beginning to end so you don't have to engage multiple firms from the planning and the architectural standpoint. Okay. And I'm going to send you that information now. I wish I magically had $50,000, but we can one step at a time. One step at a

Pat LeDuff: well, we have the 50 now the 50, that 50,000 is still there. It's not gone back yet, and I don't want to have to sit back. Okay.

Casey Phillips: Great. Thank you so much, pat. Okay. And thanks everybody for that space. I said this is the tangible work that is beyond the theory. Thank you.

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