Boys of Color Collaboration - Studying What Goes Right

This is a multi-university collaboration focused on engaging developing scholars to focus on positive youth development approach to studying effective development of boys of color. Senior investigators with rich, pertinent longitudinal data sets are collaborating with scholars across the stages of career to undertake secondary analyses to improve the quality and extent of empirical knowledge about this important and under-studied population.


Non-white males are most at risk for school failure, early involvement with the criminal justice system, early mortality and a host of other problems. But, as we know, young men of color can succeed. Despite this, there is remarkably little attention to how the majority of these young men effectively cope, succeed, and make meaningful contributions to our society.

The Obama administration recently introduced the My Brother's Keeper initiative. This effort dovetails with work already underway at Youth-Nex.

The center's Boys of Color Collaboration is intended to address the lack of such knowledge by bringing together scholars to conduct secondary data analyses and produce empirical knowledge rapidly. Senior scientists, early career faculty, and graduate students are working together to produce scientific articles, presentations, and new studies to improve understanding about the best ways to reduce these disparities and enable capabilities for young men of color. 

In 2016 the collaboration authored a Social Policy Report as a response to President Obama’s 2014 My Brother Keeper Initiative (MBKI) entitled “Development of Boys and Young Men of Color: Implications of Developmental Science for My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.” MBKI called for action among diverse representatives of society to collate information, propose policies, and implement programs to give boys and young men of color (BMOC) a more positive developmental trajectory. It focuses on five of six goals of the MBKI, summarizing the research on each and proposing recommendations for influencing policy. The report was published by the Society for Research in Child Development.

SRCD will be hosting a conference in October 2016, Babies, Boys, and Men of Color to inspire the best research in promoting the positive development of boys of color and will focus on ways to best understand threats to that positive development. It will also educate and provide an environment for scholars, policy makers, and foundations to interact.

In 2012, the collaboration produced a special issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and several presentations at national and international meetings. In 2014, the collaboration will have a working meeting of approximately 20 scholars, partially supported by Youth-Nex to advance the number of scientific reports about this population. The collaboration leadership is comprised of Patrick Tolan and Joanna Lee Williams of the Youth-Nex Center, and Oscar Barbarin of Tulane University, Velma McBride Murry of Vanderbilt University, and Sandra Graham of the University of California at Los Angeles.

Associated Faculty