A documentary 13 years in the making, American Promise provides a rare look into the lives of two middle class Black families as they navigate the ups and down of parenting and educating their sons.

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What is the american promise for the next generation?

37% say Equal opportunities
32% say Quality education
17% say Fair treatment
14% say Community support

Our goal is to empower boys, their parents, caregivers, and educators to help close the Black male achievement gap.

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Parent + Educator

Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color

"COSEBOC and its member schools believe that as the educational trajectory for [Black male] students improves the yawning academic achievement gap begins to close."

- Ron Walker

The mission of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) is to connect, inspire, support and strengthen school leaders dedicated to the social, emotional and academic development of boys and young men of color.


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What's most important for Black boys' emotional development?


Scheduling Extracurricular Activites

Discuss the benefits of participating in extracurricular activities and ways to fit them into both your son's school schedule and your own busy schedule.


(i.e. date, event, etc.)

Promises kept

Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life (Random House, 2014) by Joe Brewster, M.D., and Michele Stephenson with Hilary Beard

In this book we share what we learned along our journey that helped us to support our son in fulfilling his promise. We also reached out to more than 60 of the most accomplished researchers in the nation, experts who are performing cutting-edge studies on a wide variety of issues that impact the intellectual, social and emotional well-being of Black boys. Indeed a lot is known about how to create an environment in which a Black male will succeed.

Promises Kept presents 10 parenting and educational strategies that researchers have discovered can assist parents, educators, and other members of their proverbial Village to help Black boys become the happy, healthy, well-educated, well-developed people they are capable of being.

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and iBookstore.

Pick Up Your Copy Today

What is a promise club?

a group of parents committed to meeting together on a regular basis to support each other so that they can empower their own children to achieve success — academically, socially, and emotionally.

What is a Promise Club?

The Promises to Keep handbook will provide you with tools and tips on how to start a club.

Download the guide

Find a promise club

Register your group through Meetup for more tips, guidance, and communications with other clubs throughout the US.

The Promise Tracker

“We were sure that our son would encounter racial prejudice, issues related to socioeconomic class, and other difference-related challenges. But we had overcome those issues, and Idris could too. We would help him. We promised.”

— Joe Brewster, M.D., and Michele Stephenson

In 2014, American Promise will launch the Promise Tracker, a mobile app to support parents and caregivers of African-American boys. The Promise Tracker will allow parents to create teams and collaboratively set and monitor goals that will encourage the academic success of our young men.

Experience a video workshop for young men of color

Youth module

Designed to help build a more positive sense of identity, leadership, and academic success.


About American Promise

A documentary 13 years in the making, American Promise provides a rare look into the lives of two middle class black families as they navigate the ups and down of parenting and educating their sons.

Our goal is to empower boys, their parents, and educators to help close the Black male achievement gap.

The film will be release on PBS along with our parenting book, “Promises Kept: How to Help Black Boys Succeed in School and in Life,” by Random House in 2013.

About the Movement for Black Male Achievement

Help us tell this unique story that explores the specific challenges that middle class black boys face as they come of age. As we come to understand the challenges that are weighing on black middle class boys, we begin to understand how to set them on a stronger path moving forward, and that’s when we start to really make the American Promise come true.

Black boys in America are in crisis right now – particularly academically. The issues they are facing are bigger than public vs. private school. American Promise holds a magnifying glass to our son and his best friend to really explore the unique factors that they face as middle-class black boys coming of age at home, at school and in their community. Partner with us to tell this story, and help us shine a light on these issues. American Promise will be an important tool in encouraging all educational institutions to critically examine their approach with young men of color. We can’t solve problems until we understand the issues.

Meet The Filmmakers

Joe Brewster, M.D.

After growing up in inner city Los Angeles, Joe became the first member of his family to go to college when he enrolled at Stanford University. A practicing psychiatrist, Joe now lives in Brooklyn with his wife Michèle and his two sons.

Michèle Stephenson

Born in Haiti to a Haitian father and Panamanian mother, Michèle is a first-generation college graduate who juggles her time between filmmaking, new media projects, and keeping tabs on her two energetic boys.

Supporting Partners

Made with the generous support of Impact Partners and its following members:

Brook & Shawn Byers
Chicken & Egg Pictures
Ian Darling
Abby Disney & Pierre Hauser
Embrey Family Foundation
Juliette Feeney-Timsit & Caroleen Feeney
Kevin & Donna Gruneich
Michael J. Levinthal
Russell Long
Debbie McLeod & Jay Sears 
Gib & Susan Myers
Joan Platt & Hillary Margolis
Beth Sackle
Elizabeth & Margo King
John & Michael Steiner
Wadsworth & Wadsworth
Jamie Wolf
The Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation

Advance the Promise Tour

a deep dive with the American Promise assets to discuss education equity and black male achievement. Want the tour to come to you city?Fill out your information here.Learn more here.