General Articles

Executive Action Related to Health of Marginalized Young People

By Kendall Karr, SIECUS Intern

Earlier this year, the White House announced two separate efforts aimed at addressing the needs of young people and adolescents who are often marginalized in society. On January 22, 2014, the White House, by Presidential Memorandum, established the “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.”[1] The following month, on February 27, 2014, the White House officially launched the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.[2]

White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault
College students who are survivors of sexual assault are often faced with the challenge of not being heard by the criminal justice system, school administrators, or policy makers. In response to the current epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses, the White House is working toward changing the policies and culture on campuses that currently allow for the pervasiveness of sexual violence. Nineteen percent of undergraduate women experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.[3]In response, The Task Force held a series of virtual, public listening sessions in February 2014 for sexual violence survivors, victim advocates, university administrators, campus law enforcement, and other campus stakeholders. In an effort tocome up with “concrete and creative ideas about how schools can prevent sexual assault, and how they can better respond when it happens – both in terms of supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable” the Task Force inquired about a wide array of topics, including institutional policies and protocols to address sexual assault, prevention programs, and promoting greater coordination and consistency among federal agencies.[4]The White House’s January 2014 report addressing campus sexual assaults, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, and the Task Force’s continued efforts throughout February demonstrate efforts to enhance coordination among federal agencies and schools to confront sexual violence. This renewed call to action and executive attention to the issue seeks to empower students in reclaiming their health and safety.

My Brother’s Keeper
On February 27, 2014, the White House launched a new initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper.”[5] “My Brother’s Keeper” will bring foundations and companies together to invest in strategies to keep Black and Latino young men in school and out of the criminal justice system.[6] The initiative consists of a new Presidential Task Force to Expand Opportunity and the call for investments from foundations and businesses to advance the achievement of boys and young men of color.[7] The Task Force is chaired by the Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson and is an interagency effort to determine how public and private efforts are working and how engagement from new sectors can work together. Leading foundations and businesses announced a goal of investing at least $200 million in the next five years to implement solutions related to educational, criminal, and economic reforms to support boys and young men of color.[8]

[1]Valerie Jarrett, A Renewed Call to Action to End Rape and Sexual Assault,” The White House Blog, January 22, 2014, accessed March 1, 2014,

[2]Valerie Jarrett and Broderick Johnson, “My Brother’s Keeper: A New White House Initiative to Empower Boyrs and Young Men of Color,” The White House Blog, February 27, 2014, accessed March 1, 2014,

[3]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sexual Violence: Facts at a Glance,” 2012, accessed February 25, 2014,

[4]Bea Hanson, “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault Invites Participation in Public Listening Sessions,” Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, February 6, 2014, accessed February 25, 2014,

[5]Office of the Press Secretary, Opportunity for all: President Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to Build Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color, Fact Sheet, The White House, February 27, 2014,

[6]Christi Parsons, “Obama steps up efforts to help young men of color,” Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2014, accessed February 25, 2014,,0,2853825.story#axzz2t7Zv14Hj.