article by Kenneth Lovett via nydailynews.com
New York has become the first state to enact a program touted by President Obama to help at-risk black and Hispanic boys and young men, state officials said.
Known as “My Brother’s Keeper,” the program is designed to keep young males of color out of prison by focusing on family and community engagement, professional development and new school practices aimed at improving outcomes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature included $20 million in the state budget enacted last week to create a state version of the program. “I was born and raised in the Bronx and I have seen firsthand the challenges that so many boys and young men of color face every day,” Carl Heastie, New York’s first black Assembly speaker, told the Daily News.
Heastie said studies show that black and Hispanic males are more likely to drop out of high school and “become trapped in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.”
“We need to change the conversation around the achievement rates of African-American and Latino men so that successful futures become the rule and not the exception,” he said. “With this funding we are taking some meaningful steps toward a more holistic and comprehensive approach to improving the prospects of all our children, especially those who need our support the most.”
Obama, who has talked about his first job scooping ice cream, created a My Brother’s Keeper task force in 2014, with the idea of targeting minority boys so they can read at grade level by third grade, complete college education or training, and enter the workforce more prepared. It also seeks to reduce violence.