Since 2022, Lanier has served as president and CEO of the African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee. The nonprofit aims to make Milwaukee a top city for Black residents by 2025 and serves as the backbone for its latest push to narrow wide achievement gaps for Black men and boys.

Doing so, Lanier told the gathering, would require all-hands-on-deck cooperation among nonprofits, civic groups and government.

“All over the city and all over the county, we have all types of stuff going on,” Lanier said. “We haven’t been as organized and connected as we need to be.”

It’s hardly Milwaukee’s first effort to boost the achievement of Black boys and men.

Responding to a nationwide challenge by then-President Barack Obama, city leaders a decade ago launched an initiative to “address the multitude of challenges” that disadvantage Black men and boys in Milwaukee. That initiative sparked the creation of a Black Male Achievement Advisory Council to set a policy agenda, provide a funding apparatus and coordinate groups striving toward similar goals.

But the initiative fizzled without measurable results, and the council stopped meeting in 2021 — during a mayoral transition and a COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately harmed Black residents.

Some suggest the effort fell victim to a culture in Milwaukee where ideas often languish without public commitment and coordination. But city leaders are optimistic a new effort under new leadership will yield progress.

Already Lanier’s group has helped Milwaukee gain certification within the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance network, allowing leaders to learn from other communities seeking to improve the lives of men of color.

The National League of Cities, which supports local governments, agreed to assist Milwaukee with data tracking and coaching to reduce racial disparities in education, work and family outcomes.

Business, philanthropic and faith-based leaders joined city, school and police officials in monthly meetings of the Black Male Achievement Advisory Council.

Read the full article about improving the lives of Black men and boys by Jonmaesha Beltran at The 74.