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*-- Obama launches 'My Brothers Keeper' program for young men of color --*

NEW YORK (UPI) - In the wake of racial tensions in cities that include Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., President Barack Obama launched a new initiative aimed at helping boys and young men of color.

The corporate-sponsored non-profit My Brothers Keeper Alliance is aimed at addressing problems that gave rise to violence across the nation in the recent months. Obama said the group is meant to outlast his presidency to advance the needs of racial and social justice in the years to come.

The group will focus on working to keeping black and Latino boys out of the criminal justice system and prepare young men for successful futures, he said. Obama traveled to the Bronx, N.Y. to announce the creation of the group, a spin off of his My Brother's Keeper initiative, which is aimed at closing the educational and employment gaps among minority students.

"Some communities have consistently had the odds stacked against them," Obama said. "And folks living in those communities, and especially young people living in those communities, could use some help to change those odds."

The alliance has secured some $80 million in commitments from companies that include Deloitte Consulting, Sam's Club and American Express with the hopes the funds will be used to support early childhood education and job training programs.

"If you're African American, there's about a one in two chance you grow up without a father in your house -- one in two. If you're Latino, you have about a one in four chance. We know that boys who grow up without a father are more likely to be poor, more likely to underperform in school," he said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama will not be on the organization's board and will not be involved in the decisions about contributions or policies.

"The Obama administration will have no role in deciding how donations are screened and what criteria they will set at the alliance for donor policies because it is an entirely separate entity," Earnest said.


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