Photo: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the launch of the Young Men’s Initiative, the nation’s boldest and most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men. This cross-agency enterprise is the culmination of 18 months of work begun when the Mayor committed in his 2010 State of the City address to find new ways to tackle the crisis. Through broad policy changes and agency reforms over the next three years, a public-private partnership will invest more than $127 million in programs that will connect young men to educational, employment, and mentoring opportunities across more than a dozen city agencies. Mayor Bloomberg announced the Initiative at a breakfast co-hosted by the Council of Urban Professionals and the New America Alliance at the offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
“When we look at poverty rates, graduation rates, crime rates, and employment rates, one thing stands out: blacks and Latinos are not fully sharing in the promise of American freedom and far too many are trapped in circumstances that are difficult to escape,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Even though skin color in America no longer determines a child’s fate – sadly, it tells us more about a child’s future than it should. And so this morning, we are confronting these facts head-on, not to lament them, but to change them, and to ensure that ‘equal opportunity’ is not an abstract notion but an everyday reality, for all New Yorkers.”
Key programmatic components include the overhaul of the Department of Probation, which has supervision of almost 30,000 New Yorkers—the majority black and Latino males.
To strengthen educational supports, $18 million will help provide transformative mentoring and literacy services while a $24 million investment will launch the Expanded Success Initiative, a pioneering effort that will target schools that have shown progress in closing the achievement gap in high school graduation and use them a laboratory for strategies to eradicate the achievement gap in college and career readiness.
Additionally, an investment of almost $25 million will connect young men with employment opportunities via an expansion of Jobs-Plus, an evidence-based program that program that saturates public housing communities with high-quality services, community support for work, and removes barriers to obtaining employment.
Over the next three years, the programmatic innovation portion of the initiative will be funded with $67.5 million of city funding, $30 million from the Campaign for Black Male Achievement of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and $30 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Chancellor Dennis Walcott will supervise implementation of the Young Men’s Initiatives across city agencies. The Mayor has directed all involved agencies to report to him each month on their progress. These standing meetings will ensure that agencies are held accountable for success.
“The obstacles faced by young men and boys of color are appalling and inconsistent with the open society we aspire to be,” said George Soros. “I know from practical experience that it is possible to make meaningful improvements and transform the lives of our most vulnerable.”