A Comprehensive Solution to Difficult Challenges Facing Boys and Young Men of Color

Arnold Chandler, Author of ‘Life Course Framework,” Urges “Cross-Silo Collaboration”

Arnold Chandler looks at the big picture when examining the myriad of challenges facing young Black and Latino men—and that’s a matter of policy. Noted for the concepts put forth in his Life Course Framework, a guide that encourages holistic and systematic approaches to complex issues, Chandler envisions a world where policymakers can cross silos and take a long view to better address challenges frequently handled in a vacuum.

On September 20, Chandler was the featured speaker at our special session on Black and Latino male achievement in Newark. Trust Board Chairwoman Shané Harris opened the event, followed by insights from William Simpson of the My Brother’s Keepers Newark (MBKN) initiative who spoke about the importance of working collectively and tapping into the existing networks.

Understanding the Data

Understanding why outcomes for young men of color vary so dramatically is central to formulating effective policy interventions. Chandler notes that males of color are showing negative or stagnant trends when compared with females in areas of employment and earnings, high school graduation, and college enrollment and completion.

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Arnold Chandler, Author of ‘Life Course Framework.”

"We have a vicious cycle of intergenerational male disadvantage," he said, pointing to demand-side shifts in employment that have resulted in declining employment and earnings, particularly among young Black and Latino men.

Some examples of those shifts have been due to technological changes, off-shoring of middle-skill jobs, suburbanization of low-skilled jobs, legal discrimination against felons and illegal employment discrimination in low-wage jobs.

In 2010, Black, native-born men aged 18 - 61, suffered a 42 percent joblessness rate, as compared to 24 percent for Latinos and 17 percent for whites, Chandler noted. Those figures, he said, included heavy concentrations of individuals who did not attend college. New Jersey’s overall unemployment rate has was 5.4 percent in October.

Chandler tied Black and Latino rates of unemployment to an overall rise in mass criminalization, noting that imprisonment increased by 430 percent between 1973 and 2010 largely because of changes in policy that increased prison admissions and sentence lengths, particularly for lower-level and non-violent crimes. This also contributes to the cycle of poverty as felony conviction and/or imprisonment reduces lifetime earnings and employment by 10 to 30 percent.

Charting a new course

To begin moving the needle, Chandler urged us all "to change our thinking and our approach”. In order to interrupt the cycle of poverty, organizations from across sectors must find new ways to work collaboratively to better address and tackle the complex social problems facing our community.


In Newark, community stakeholders are recognizing the urgency of working with multiple partners from across sectors, which aligns with Chandler’s belief that ‘it is unlikely that a sole focus on education will reverse the cycle’.

In February 2014, President Barack Obama launched his “My Brother’s Keeper Challenge,” a call to action for communities to address the most pressing challenges facing boys and men of color. In response to the challenge, Mayor Ras Baraka and the City of Newark launched the initiative’s local chapter.

The Trust is committed to this work and looks forward to continuing to partner with local groups to support our young men of color.

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