Westchester County – BW reported Councilman Jared Rice and New Rochelle High School principal Reggie Richardson represented the city of New Rochelle at the My Brother’s Keeper national summit at the White House on Wednesday, December 14th. President Obama thanked some of the leaders who have truly made a difference in children’s lives at his last national MBK summit as president. The same week several local schools districts including Mount Vernon and Yonkers and colleges were awarded grants as part of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced Tuesday, that the State Education Department (SED) awarded $10 million in grants to 56 organizations for two New York State My Brother’s Keeper Initiatives. $3 millions awarded to the Teacher Opportunity Corps II (TOC), a program designed to recruit and retain a more diverse teacher workforce in colleges throughout the state and $7 million awarded to the MBK Challenge Grant Program to 40 school districts that work with community-based organizations to improve family engagement efforts in their regions. These grants support programs and strategies to help boys and young men of color—and all students—realize their full potential. Such strategies are explored in a report commissioned and released Tuesday by SED.
The report, New York State Education Department My Brother’s Keeper Guidance Document: Emerging Practices for Schools and Communities, provides an overview of the outcome trends among boys of color in K-12 school environments, and a research review of the most prevalent strategies currently being implemented in schools and communities across the country.
Three colleges and three school districts in Westchester and Rockland Counties are set to receive grants as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Mount Vernon City School District ($105,831), East Ramapo Central School District ($44,135), Yonkers City School District ($149,582), Bronx-based Monroe College, which has a campus in New Rochelle ($325,000), Mount Saint Mary College ($39,000) and and Sarah Lawrence College ($103,334), were collectively awarded more than $663,000. Poughkeepsie, which serves as the county seat of Dutchess County was also awarded $142,419.
“I want to thank our Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement, Dr Waveline Bennett-Conroy for her diligence and expertise in obtaining this grant and many other grants for our district.” Mount Vernon City School Board President tells BW. “The school district stands united with the MBK community. We look forward to developing long term solutions, helping our young men find careers, aspire toward and achieve higher personal goals, build on family value skills and guiding them towards continuing education opportunities . I would like to also personally acknowledge and encourage the leadership work that Dehia Farqueson and Francis Wynn have been doing with the MBK community in Mt. Vernon!”
The My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge encourages communities to convene leaders, identify effective strategies, and work together toward achieving these goals:
- Ensuring all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready;
- Ensuring all children read at grade level by third grade;
- Ensuring all youth graduate from high school;
- Ensuring all youth complete post-secondary education or training;
- Ensuring all youth out of school are employed; and
- Ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime.
Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa feels these grants are a critical step in bringing greater equity and fairness to New York’s students, particularly students of color. “The funding will improve the quality and diversity of New York’s teaching corps and will help schools and community organizations develop and execute cradle-to-career college strategies,” Rosa says. “Taken together, these efforts will result in better school and life outcomes for boys and young men of color.”
“To address a problem, you must first understand the full extent of it,” said Commissioner Elia. “The report we’re issuing today provides critically important information about the scope of the issues facing boys and young men of color and the strategies to tackle those problems. Through our next report on how to implement these strategies and the MBK grants, we are helping to improve the futures of boys and young men of color.”
“Through the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, New York State is serving as a national model in exploring strategies to ensure our boys and young men of color can realize their full potential,” said Regent Lester W. Young. “Educators across the state and the country should use these strategies in their schools and classrooms to support all students. We look forward to continued improvements in the lives of boys and young men of color through the extraordinary programs that will be funded with these grants.”
NYS Assemblyman Carl E. Heastie is the first African American to serve as Speaker of the New York State Assembly said, “Teachers play a critical role in setting the course for our students’ future achievement. It is important that we pursue a robust and diverse workforce of educators that reflects the diversity of our student body and our state. These grants will open the door for the next generation of talented and dedicated individuals who will be our partners in putting every child on the road to success. I commend the Board of Regents and the State Education Department for their efforts to fully implement the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative in our state.”
In 2014, President Barack Obama established the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Task Force at the federal level. The Task Force was an interagency effort focused on closing and eliminating the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color so that all young people have the chance to reach their full potential. With the adoption of the 2016–2017 New York State budget, New York became the first state to accept the President’s challenge and enacted the My Brother’s Keeper initiative into law. The budget included a $20 million investment in support of the initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. Among the programs included in the $20 million investment are the MBK Challenge Grant Program and TOC II.
MBK Challenge Grant Program:
The $7 million in grants is designed to encourage regions and school districts to develop and execute coherent cradle-to-career college strategies that are aimed at improving the life outcomes for boys and young men of color and develop and sustain effective relationships with families toward the goal of success for all students. SED awarded $7 million in grants to 40 school districts, working with community-based organizations and other groups to improve family engagement efforts in local communities.
New Rochelle was the first municipality in Westchester to accept the president’s challenge.
On April 29, 2015, New Rochelle officially accepted President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge as a partnership between the City of New Rochelle, the City School District of New Rochelle and Community Partners. As of today, over 120 Community Stakeholders have signed on to help the community reach its MBK goals. The MBK cradle-to-career initiative aims to assist all children and young adults in New Rochelle live productive lives, particularly Black and Hispanic or Latino male children and young men.