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PR- 348-12
October 4, 2012


Young Men’s Initiative Aims to Reduce Disparities Among Young Black and Latino Men

Nearly 4,000 Young Men Impacted in Year One

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Ronald E. Richter, Department of Probation Commissioner Vincent N. Schiraldi and Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt today visited one of the five new sites serving youth in “Close to Home,” a signature component of the Young Men’s Initiative and a sweeping reform of the juvenile system that transfers responsibility for the majority of New York City juvenile offenders to the City, so that the young people can be rehabilitated, educated, supervised and, when necessary, confined near their families and in their communities. Previously, youthful offenders were detained under a failed justice system that sent them upstate without family or community support, resulting in an 81 percent recidivism rate and a future of rotating in and out of jail. Under Close to Home, these youth receive individualized educational services, and unlike the upstate model, all their academic credits will for the first time count towards their high school graduation. The Mayor also released the Young Men’s Initiative first annual report, which details the progress of the initiative, including the adoption and implementation of Close to Home legislation; the selection of schools to participate in the Expanded Success Initiative; the launch of the nation’s first social impact bond; and a city-wide effort to lift the barriers to employment by eliminating questions about criminal record on initial employment application forms and connect young men with identification. The Mayor made the announcement at the Passages Academy in Brooklyn, a Close to Home site, where he also was joined by Deputy Schools Chancellor Dorita Gibson and Stephen Wilder, Principal of Passages Academy.

“We created the Young Men’s Initiative because we were committed to finding new ways for young black and Latino men to succeed in their lives – and we’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made just a year later,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “From implementing an aggressive agenda designed to effectively intervene at the most critical moments to bringing black and Latino young men together with adult mentors, we are making a difference in young people’s lives. We will continue to take aggressive steps to ensure that all New Yorkers are able to fully participate in the promise our city holds.”

“The challenge for this generation is to bring our young black and Latino men back into our families, communities and workplaces,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “The Young Men’s Initiative is designed specifically to help level the playing field for the too many young men who have fallen behind their peers – and the results from our first year show that we have begun to do exactly that.”

“The Young Men’s Initiative carries out our collective responsibility, as City agencies and New Yorkers, to ensure that the more than 300,000 boys of color attending New York City Public schools lead enriching and productive lives as adults,” said Schools Chancellor Walcott. “As part of YMI, our schools have made great strides leveling the playing field for our young men of color.  That includes launching the Expanded Success Initiative and building on our success graduating more young black and Latino men ready to take on the challenges of college and compete in the workplace.”

 “Until now, too many of our city’s young black and Latino men were being sent upstate and getting trapped in a failed criminal justice system with a sky-high recidivism rate,” said Chief Policy Advisor Feinblatt. “The beginning of Close to Home means that our juvenile offenders will be now be rehabilitated in their own community where they can achieve educational credits, maintain ties with their family and transition back to the community – all critical supports in helping young people get their lives back on track.”  

“Together with all the very impressive members of our YMI advisory board, we will partner to get this tough job done, and support the city in its efforts to tackle all the barriers to success confronting our young men,” said Elba Montalvo, Advisory Board Co-Chair and Executive Director of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families.

“When we launched the Young Men’s Initiative we were optimistic that our research had led us to a collection of best practices that would reduce disparities crippling young black and Latino men's opportunities for success,” said Richard Buery, Advisory Board Co-Chair and President of the Children’s Aid Society. “One year later it is gratifying to see the first set of results – including significant decreases in suspensions at our pilot schools and the passage and implementation of Close to Home,– bear out our optimism. This Initiative, in its depth and breadth, not only affords the young men of our City unprecedented opportunity but shows them, in the most meaningful way, that they matter to us.”

“Close to Home is committed to ensuring that young people who are in placement will receive NYC credits toward graduation and will leave placement further ahead in school than when they arrived,” said ACS Commissioner Richter. “There is a continuum of services including family engagement and education that we believe will allow young people to more successfully re-enter the community.”

“As part of the ‘Close to Home initiative, we are working hard to expand the number and scope of alternative-to-placement programs here in New York City,” said Probation Commissioner Schiraldi.  “For many young people, intensive mentoring and education programs that allow them to continue living with their family are far more effective than placement.  We are also taking steps to ensure that the recommendations we make to the Court more accurately reflect a young person’s risk level and needs.”

“As Chair of the City Council Committee on Juvenile Justice, one of my main concerns has been reducing recidivism among incarcerated youth,” said Councilwoman Sara M. González.   “By placing the emphasis on rehabilitation and not detention, our city is taking a huge step in the right direction. I am proud to have partnered with the Administration on the Close to Home initiative and will continue to ensure it meets the needs of our at-risk youth.”

Launched by the Mayor in August 2011, the Young Men’s Initiative is the nation’s most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men and the culmination of 18 months of research on the causes of those disparities and their potential remedies. Through broad policy changes and agency reforms, a public-private partnership is investing $43 million annually in programs that connect young men to education, employment, and mentoring opportunities; improve their health; and reduce their involvement with the criminal justice system.

Over the past year, the Young Men’s Initiative has launched new programs, expanded existing services, and championed policy changes designed to help young black and Latino men achieve life outcomes on par with their peers. With the support of an Advisory Board representing a cross-section of the most experienced leaders from the non-profit, public, philanthropic and private sectors, the initiative focuses on employment, health, justice and education and includes an implementation and evaluation structure that focuses on outcomes and accountability, including monthly management meetings with the Mayor.

Reducing Involvement with the Criminal Justice System

‘Close to Home’ The juvenile justice system, which has historically sent young people from New York City to detention centers upstate, has been defined by an 81 percent recidivism rate within three years. The Close To Home legislation, passed by Governor Cuomo in March and advocated for by the Young Men’s Initiative advisory board, is a sweeping reform of the system that transfers responsibility for the majority of justice involved New York City youth to the City so that the young people can be rehabilitated, supervised, and, when necessary, confined near their families and in their communities (Close To Home does not affect youth in secure facilities – the most serious juvenile offenders who have been convicted of the most serious crimes – who will remain upstate). As a result of this legislation, court-involved youth will be served with high-quality programming and residential facilities, delivered locally and under the auspices of the Administration for Children’s Services along with the Department of Probation (DOP) and Department of Education (DOE), better connecting them with their families, schools and communities.

In September 2012, ACS accepted the first admissions of youth from the New York City Family Court for non-secure placement in locations managed by ACS under contract with non-profits experienced in providing this service – close to home, family and social supports.

Critically, under Close to Home five Department of Education school sites offer a continuum of educational options to serve young people in non-secure placement. As a result, youth receive individualized educational services, and for the first time, all academic credits earned in placement will count towards their high school graduation. Previously, education credits from upstate facilities did not transfer and youth would lose valuable time and effort.

The City expects to serve up to 300 young people in non-secure placement, and has accepted approximately 45 youth into its care since the initiative began in September 2012.

The City has partnered with eleven non-profit providers to deliver strengths-based non-secure placement program models that offer structured, residential care for youth in a supportive, supervised, and family-like environment. The strong collaboration between providers, ACS, DOE, and DOP will greatly enhance expected outcomes, including greater academic achievement and stronger communication and relationships with families.

Dedicated DOE and ACS staff begin intensive discharge planning when a young person arrives in placement, which promotes seamless transitions back to communities and local schools upon release. Prior to leaving placement, each young person will be enrolled in a community-based school program and have a comprehensive aftercare service plan in place, that may include family skill-building, youth development programming, and pro-social activities. All aftercare service plans include intensive monitoring and comprehensive case management, and every youth in aftercare is connected to a supportive network of community-based resources.

Social Impact Bond – On August 2, 2012, New York City announced it will award a contract for the nation’s first Social Impact Bond, an innovative way to fund promising new programs at no cost to taxpayers. This investment will support a new evidence-based program for young adults on Rikers Island.

The program – the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) – focuses on personal responsibility education, training and counseling, with the goal of reducing the likelihood of reincarceration. In this new model, private investors fund the intervention through a nonprofit contractor and the government pays the contractor only if the program meets its goals. Goldman Sachs will provide financing, Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide grant support for the effort and MDRC, a leading non-profit, will oversee project implementation.

Improving Educational Outcomes

Expanded Success Initiative – In 2010, the graduation rates for black and Latino young men – at 54 percent and 52 percent respectively – were well below the citywide average and 20 points lower than graduation rates for their white male peers. Of those who did graduate, only 18 percent of black young men and 21 percent of Latinos were deemed “college and career ready” as defined by the New York State Education Department.

To address this critical challenge, the Expanded Success Initiative is investing and conducting research in 40 public high schools that have shown promise in reversing this trend; developing and launching 8 new high schools specifically designed to fully prepare black and Latino young men for success in college and careers; and scaling up college advising training city-wide with the goal of reaching all high schools over the next two years.

In spring 2012, the 40 Expanded Success Initiative high schools were selected for investment and research based on a competitive design challenge, which asked schools to propose strategies that work to raise the bar within three core areas of school operation: Academics, Youth Development and School Culture. Schools that participated in the design challenge had an enrollment consisting of at least 35 percent black and Latino males and at least 60 percent of their students qualify for free and/or reduced lunch. These schools also have a 4-year-graduation rate above 65 percent, and earned an A or B on their latest high school progress report.

Selected schools are implementing their designs beginning with this fall’s 9th grade class. This investment will be felt more broadly as the lessons learned from these schools are translated into systemic reform across the city.

Improving Health

 Sexual Health Education in the Schools – More than one third of all public high school students in New York City have had sex, and approximately one in five New York City teenagers have had four or more sex partners. About one in 5 New York City youth had sex before age 13 years.

As of the 2011-12 school year, New York City public middle and high schools have been required to include sexual health education as part of comprehensive health education and students will receive one semester of sexual health education lessons during both middle and high school. Sexual health education lessons include medically accurate information, communications skills, avoiding high risk situations, identifying healthy relationships, as well as how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease and infections. (There is a parental opt-out on lessons involving prevention.) The DOE offers teachers and staff of middle and high schools training on evidence-based curriculum and encourages schools to offer sexual health instruction in early grades (6th or 7th and 9th or 10th ).

Increasing Employment Opportunities

Executive Order 150 – Having a government ID makes it easier to apply for jobs; open up bank accounts; and receive government benefits and services. As part of the Young Men’s Initiative, the Mayor signed Executive Order 150, requiring City agencies to help their clients access forms of ID. The City also launched a public information campaign, including a website, informing New Yorkers how to get the 3 basic forms of ID: a birth certificate, a social security card and non-drivers ID. 5,086 people have engaged with the City about the ID campaign.

Executive Order 151 – A significant challenge facing people with histories of incarceration is employers’ practice of eliminating anyone with a history from the chance to get an interview for a job opening.

Signed by the Mayor on August 4, 2011, Executive Order 151 limits City agencies from asking questions regarding an applicant’s prior criminal convictions on any preliminary employment application documents, or asking about an applicant’s criminal conviction history before or during the first interview with the applicant (excluding public safety jobs). This does not bar the information from becoming known before an offer of employment is made. Rather it simply gives the applicant a chance to prove themselves as otherwise capable in the interview process, and permits the employer to consider that together with the knowledge of the prior criminal history.

All 35 non-exempt Mayoral agencies have removed the question about criminal record on employment application forms.

About the Young Men’s Initiative

Announced in August 2011, the Young Men’s Initiative is the nation’s most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men. Through broad policy changes and agency reforms, a public-private partnership will invest in programs that will connect young men to educational, employment, and mentoring opportunities across more than a dozen city agencies. The Center for Economic Opportunity, established in 2006 by Mayor Bloomberg to implement innovative ways to reduce poverty in New York City, is responsible for overseeing implementation and evaluation for many of the programs within the Young Men’s Initiative. Support for the Initiative is being provided by Open Society Foundations and Bloomberg Philanthropies through grants to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and The Fund for Public Schools.

To view the annual report, go to


Marc LaVorgna / Samantha Levine   (212) 788-2958

Michael Fagan / Tia Waddy (ACS)   (212) 341-2960

Erin Hughes (DOE)   (212) 374-5141

Ryan Dodge (Probation)   (212) 361-8957


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More Resources
Read 2012 NYC Young Men's Initiative annual report (in PDF)