Photo courtesy of Vice Mayor Rex Richardson.
Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson participated in the White House’s final My Brother’s Keeper National Summit on Wednesday, highlighting the city’s efforts in helping its boys and young men of color as part of its answer to President Barack Obama’s call to action, which challenged communities across the U.S. to focus resources to that specific portion of the population.
Richardson, who led the charge in implementing MBK in Long Beach in 2015, discussed the city’s Promising Adults Tomorrow’s Hope (PATH) young adult diversion program, and the creation of the Long Beach Office of Equity.
“It forced us to, rather than have this as some plan to put in our pocket or sit on a shelf, it forced us to add staff and build capacity and actually implement that plan,” Richardson said during a panel discussion with other local leaders who have implemented MBK in their districts.
The vice mayor also pointed to Safe Long Beach, which was created as a direct response to the president’s community challenge. It addresses a broad safety agenda aimed at reducing all forms of violence, including domestic abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, hate crimes, bullying, gang violence, and violent crime.
Finally, Richardson explained the city’s Long Beach College Promise, which drew applause from the audience. Under the program, any Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) student is guaranteed a spot at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB). If they don’t qualify at CSULB then they have the opportunity to receive two semesters of tuition free schooling at Long Beach City College (LBCC).
Richardson, who was raised by a single mother and identified himself as a “free lunch kid” who attended 14 public schools before attending college, also noted the importance of making connections.
“It has to be personal,” he told the audience. “The moment for me, personally, when I knew I wanted to work on an issue like this and commit to public service, was the moment I received my college acceptance letter. When I was 17 years old and I received that letter that said to me: ‘you overcame barriers, you have value and you matter, and since you matter you have a commitment to pay that forward’.”
To see the full summit, click here.