FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG LAUNCHES NATION’S MOST COMPREHENSIVE EFFORT TO TACKLE DISPARITIES BETWEEN YOUNG BLACK AND LATINO MALES AND THEIR PEERS
New Policies and Practices, Plus City Resources and Private Funding, Will Address Challenges in Key Areas of Education, Employment, Health and Justice
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today 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, where he was joined by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, President of the Eagle Academy Foundation David Banks, President of the New York Women’s Foundation Ana Oliveira, and George Soros.
“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. As part of the Young Men’s Initiative, the Department of Probation will take responsibility for connecting probationers to the economic and educational opportunities that can prevent recidivism and will launch five satellite offices in neighborhoods with the highest number of disconnected youth.
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.
Key developments to policy and agency practice include: new metrics in School Progress Reports to hold schools accountable for the performance of black and Latino males; a requirement for City agencies to encourage and support young people in obtaining government-issued identification, the lack of which serve as a barrier to employment; the development of criteria for teen-friendly clinics that will lead to more young people being able to access appropriate health care services; a review of agency policies to identify where obstacles to father involvement can be reduced; and an Executive Order ensuring that City agencies do not place undue barriers in their own hiring processes for people with criminal convictions unrelated to the jobs for which they are applying.
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.”
“This is a crisis that demands a crisis response,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “Expressly naming the problem of disparities and aggressively fighting barriers is how we are going to begin to achieve change. New York City is going to send a signal that the situation facing young black and Latino men requires the same kind of aggressive, cross-agency response that a natural disaster would demand, because fixing these outcomes is critical to the City’s health and future.”
“This initiative provides the support our most vulnerable students need to graduate high school, while setting a high bar to ensure they are prepared for success in college and careers,” said Chancellor Walcott. “We’ve come a long way in improving achievement for black and Latino young men, helping to narrow the racial gaps in state exams and graduation rates. But in order for all students to meet our highest expectations and have a chance at successful futures, we need to go a step further.”
“Our goal is to create economic opportunities for all New Yorkers, and these initiatives will target a population that for too long has not had the same access to those opportunities as other groups,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel.
In January 2010, Mayor Bloomberg asked two experts on youth development – David Banks, President of the Eagle Academy Foundation, and Ana Oliveira, President of the New York Women’s Foundation – to lead an investigation into the barriers that black and Latino young men encounter, the disparities between them and their peers, and what the City could do to better connect them to opportunities. They produced a report that found that, though the population of men ages 18-24 is roughly divided among whites, blacks and Latinos, their outcomes couldn’t be more different: across the five boroughs black and Latino young men have a poverty rate that is 50 percent higher than white and Asian young men; their unemployment rate is 60 percent higher; they are two times more likely not to graduate from high school; they are more likely to become teen fathers; and more than 90 percent of all young murder victims and perpetrators are black and Latino.
The Report recommended that the City take the following actions:
In response to these recommendations, Mayor Bloomberg charged Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Chancellor Dennis Walcott with developing an Action Plan that includes: policy changes; reform in the practices of agencies that interact most directly with black and Latino young men; and the launch of pilot programs that can impact the most affected neighborhoods. Over a dozen agencies were involved in the design of the Young Men’s Initiative Action Plan and will be responsible for its implementation.
“I am so proud to have been a part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative. This Mayor has been fully engaged in this project since day one. The initiative is the first of its kind in the country where the private and public sector have joined together to say that we intend to reclaim the lives of our young African American and Latino men. It is a call to action, a challenge, not only to the community and its leaders, but to the donor community, to step up and help us alter the future of these young men,” said David Banks, the President of the Eagle Academy Foundation. “Under the Mayor’s leadership, the Department of Education has seen the first real movement in narrowing the achievement gap in a generation. However, the disparities between the achievement of boys of color and their white peers remain stark and unsustainable. If we fail to bridge this gap, we will once again be leaving another generation of young men of color on the sidelines of our economy. The answer lies in the quality of our schools and how they address the educational challenges our young men of color face each and every day. The Mayor’s initiative will implement targeted, innovative strategies to solve this achievement gap and confront the other challenges facing our young men.”
“We know how important family support is to the health of our children,” said Ana Oliveira, President of the New York Women’s Foundation. “Children who grow up with active fathers in their lives are less likely to live in poverty, do better in school, with less involvement with the criminal justice system, and have a smaller chance to become teenage parents. This is particularly true for New York City’s black and Latino children, who are more likely to grow up without active fathers. The City of New York cannot single-handedly change the fact that so many young boys are born in households without fathers; yet, it can and must reduce barriers in its policy and practice that would block fathers from being more involved in the lives of their children, and it can and must invest in promising mentoring initiatives.”
The New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), under the leadership of Executive Director Veronica M. White, will assist in the implementation of our newest innovations, bringing the same evaluation rigor and accountability to this set of investments as they have in the design and testing of the administrations anti-poverty programs
Following is a list of individual initiatives and their goals by issue area, for the next three years. All dollar amounts reflect total spending over three years.
1. Reduce the achievement gap in educational outcomes by reducing disparities, removing barriers, creating new strategic investments designed to inform the entire system about how to better serve black and Latino males, launching innovative programming to support young people in their educational journeys, and promoting accountability throughout the Department of Education.
2. Improving outcomes for black and Latino males in the justice system by reforming how we serve juveniles in New York State, how we serve youth at Rikers Island, and removing barriers to the very things—employment, education, civic engagement—that will help people with criminal records turn the page in their lives. The City will take responsibility for its own agencies improving service delivery through focused efforts at the Department of Corrections for young people and reinventing the role of the Department of Probation.
3. Promoting employment by removing barriers faced by black and Latino males in the pursuit of work, transforming the culture of public housing authorities to support connections to employment, and recruiting public-private partnerships to provide summer jobs for young people.
4. Improving the health of black and Latino youth and their families by reducing barriers to father engagement, promoting memorable moments between fathers and their children, making sure that young black and Latino males have access to health care services appropriate for them so they will avail themselves of care, promoting more mentoring opportunities, and taking a public health approach to violence prevention.
CEO and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City would like to acknowledge supporters who have helped provide a foundation for this initiative, including Altman Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Blue Ridge Foundation, Citi Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Ford Foundation, Goldman Sachs, the Leona B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, JP Morgan, Marc Haas Foundation, MDRC, Morgan Stanley, New York Community Trust, Open Society Institute, Robin Hood Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Tiger Foundation.
Stu Loeser / Samantha Levine (212) 788-2958
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