The president and first lady still have a while to figure out where they will settle post-presidency; although in the past, they've suggested that they may stay in Washington long enough to let their daughter Sasha graduate from Sidwell Friends School.
Regardless of where they land, the My Brother's Keeper Alliance seems certain to play a large part in Obama's post-White House life. In response to a question from a middle school student in Washington last week about what inspired him to be president, Obama talked about the work he'd done before becoming a politician as a community organizer. He said in college he began thinking about the ways he could have the most impact, and expects to go back to that work.
"I’ll be done being president in a couple years, and I’ll still be a pretty young man," Obama said. "So I’ll go back to doing the kinds of work that I was doing before -- just trying to find ways to help people, help young people get educations, help people get jobs, help bring businesses into neighborhoods that don’t have enough businesses. That’s the kind of work that I really love to do."
The My Brother's Keeper program began as a public-private partnership designed to help men of color who are struggling to finish high school or develop the skills to find jobs. The effort sprang, in part, from the frustration that followed the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Since then, lethal interactions between police and black men and boys in Ferguson, Mo., New York, Cleveland and North Charleston have sparked demonstrations, outrage and riots.
The latest riots in Baltimore, following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, prompted the president to call last week for some collective "soul searching" on the part of the country.
"If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could," Obama said. "It’s just it would require everybody saying, 'This is important, this is significant,' and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped."
The My Brother's Keeper Alliance is one element of the president's long-term solution to the problem's faced by minority youth and urban communities struggling with poverty and a lack of jobs. The program has attracted $300 million in funding for an effort that the president has said will continue long after he has left the White House.
The alliance is similar in its broad outlines to the Clinton Global Initiative, started by former president Bill Clinton in 2005, in that it serve as a magnet for corporate and individual donations.
The alliance will focus on everything from preparations for preschool to job-training and employment programs. "Persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes and career skills remain, barring too many youth from realizing their full potential and creating harmful social and economic costs to our nation," wrote Broderick Johnson, the chairman of the White House's My Brother's Keeper Task Force.
According the White House, closing the gap between young men of color and their peers could boost the U.S. gross domestic product by as much as $2.1 trillion.