In February, President Barack Obama launched "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative aimed at empowering boys and young men of color — a population that faces high rates of unemployment and is disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. One of the organizations partnering with the White House is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which, for years, has helped the EMS Corps of Alameda County accomplish a similar mission. The five-month EMS Corps program, run by the Alameda County Public Health Department, gives young men ages 18-26 an opportunity to train for careers in emergency medical services, while also offering life coaching, mentoring, mental health and wellness support, and more. Since it launched in 2011, EMS Corps has graduated six classes and a total of nearly one hundred students, and most are now employed or in college. The participants are primarily men of color from low-income communities — and the ones who advance to become EMTs or enter other related positions often end up serving neighborhoods in which they have deep roots. In this way, the program is working to increase the number of local EMTs of color while also uplifting a population that is often overlooked and underserved.
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