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(The Baltimore Sun) -- Breaking with his past reluctance to tailor policies to specific racial groups, President Barack Obama on Thursday launched a federal program aimed at improving the economic and educational status of young black and Hispanic men.

The initiative, which does not require congressional approval, would direct $200 million in foundation money toward programs intended to close the racial achievement gap in schools and reduce the disproportionate unemployment rate that has beset black communities since the civil rights era.

Obama, the nation's first black president, described the effort as a moral issue of national importance.

"We've become numb to these statistics. … We just assume that this is an inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is," the president said at a White House event.

"But these statistics should break our hearts, and they should compel us to act," he said.

The "My Brother's Keeper" program marks at least a symbolic departure for a president who has often resisted focusing policies on individual racial groups — "I'm not the president of black America," he once said. "I'm the president of the United States of America."

Obama rarely spoke about race during his first term — an approach that has engendered criticism from some African-American leaders. Continue reading via The Baltimore Sun...

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