At his 2010 State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg discussed the problem of the widening disparities between young black and Latino males and their peers. Back then, he said he would do something about it.
Bloomberg announced yesterday that following 18 months of research, the City will launch a new program, entitled "Young Men's Initiative" to tackle the problems slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men.
“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.
Through a $127 million investment from a coalition of both private and public agencies, broad policy changes and agency reforms will aim to connect young men to educational, employment and mentoring opportunities. The mayor's calling the plan "the nation's boldest and most comprehensive" effort in this area.
“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," Bloomberg said. "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.”
“This is a crisis that demands a crisis response,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “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.”
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, and what the City could do to better connect them to opportunities.
The report found that, across the five boroughs, black and Latino young men have a poverty rate 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:
- Reduce the achievement gap in schools by implementing targeted strategies and improving outcomes for black and Latino youth in our public schools.
- Reform the juvenile and criminal justice systems so that our interventions produce young people prepared for second chances and not to return to jail.
- Connect more black and Latino young men to employment by reducing the barriers they may experience in obtaining work.
- Improve the health of young men, encouraging more fathers to be involved in the lives of their children, and breaking the cycle of premature fathering.
In the coming weeks, Bed-Stuy Patch will delve deeper into the issues and findings of this report, as well as give closer examination to the "Young Men's Initiative," the plans the mayor has put in place to address them.