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August 11, 2016
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JP O'Hare

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$7 Million in Grants Now Available for My Brother’s Keeper Challenge

Grants Support New York’s Initiative to Develop Programs and Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

The State Education Department (SED) is now accepting applications for the just-released My Brother’s Keeper Challenge grants, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today. A total of $7 million is available through this grant, which is designed to encourage regions and school districts to develop and execute cradle-to-college strategies aimed at improving the life outcomes of boys and young men of color. Public school districts with at least one Priority School as of July 1, 2016, are eligible to apply for this grant; full proposals must be postmarked by September 15, 2016.

“I’ve said repeatedly that levelling the playing field for all students is the next great civil rights struggle,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “My Brother’s Keeper will play a critical role in our efforts to bring greater equity to the system by driving resources where they’re needed most, and I encourage all eligible districts to apply for these grants. I am so proud that New York is leading the way in this critical effort.”

“When we turn our words into actions, we have a great shot at producing systemic and sustainable changes in our schools, some of which have faced tough challenges for many years,” Commissioner Elia said. “These grants will give our districts the opportunity to take a comprehensive approach to tackling issues that have been roadblocks for too many of our students for far too long. With targeted, continuous intervention, we can make real differences in the lives of our children. None of this would be possible without the leadership of Speaker Heastie and the support of Assemblymembers Nolan, Glick and Blake. Thank you for your commitment to funding these critical programs. I also want to thank Governor Cuomo and Majority Leader Flanagan—they too were instrumental in making sure these programs got the attention and resources that they deserved.”

“As a society, we must do more to stop the lack of access and opportunity that holds back too many of our boys and young men of color,” Regent Lester Young said. “We know that institutional structures of schools must provide a variety of organizational and program options designed to support the success of all students. By intentionally planning and implementing access to critical programs and policies that address the six MBK Milestones, the New York State MBK Challenge will help young people get a better education, graduate high school prepared for college and the next steps in their lives, and even provide second chance opportunities where necessary to put students back on the right path -- the path to success and a brighter future.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “When the Assembly led the way in supporting policies like early childhood education and the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, we envisioned the opportunities it would provide for countless students who face challenges from their first days in the classroom. In representing some of the most diverse communities in the world, these initiatives are an absolute cornerstone of our vision for a future where opportunities for success belong to every individual regardless of their socioeconomic background. It is indisputable that African-American and Latino males face daunting obstacles in completing their education, particularly in the urban areas of our state. This funding will be a powerful tool to help school districts determine how best to tackle the unique needs of their communities and improve the learning experience for all their students. I want to thank Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia, Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Regent Dr. Lester Young, Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan, Deborah Glick and Michael Blake for their leadership and for their commitment to making this vision a reality for students and their families.”

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. 

The My Brother’s Keeper Challenge Grant was initially established by the Board of Regents to increase the academic achievement and college and career readiness of disadvantaged youth, particularly boys and young men of color. The Department will fund grants to eligible school districts who submit specific plans on how they will address two or more of the following goals:           

  • Enter school ready to learn;
  • Read at grade level by third grade;
  • Graduate from high school ready for college and career;
  • Complete postsecondary education or training;
  • Successfully enter the workforce; and
  • Reduce code of conduct violations and provide a second chance.

Districts awarded $30,000 or under will be required to pursue only one of these goals. Funds will be allocated on a per student basis, based on the total number of students in Priority Schools within the district. Public school districts that have at least one identified Priority School as of July 1, 2016, are eligible to apply. Charter schools are not eligible.

Full proposals must be postmarked by September 15, 2016. The grant activities must commence between October 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017. The Request for Proposals (RFP) for these grants is available at: My Brother’s Keeper Challenge Grant Application Documents.

Details on New York’s MBK Initiative can be found at: New York State My Brother’s Keeper.

Assemblymember Cathy Nolan said, "We are so proud to be leading the way on education reform that nurtures the whole student, from cradle to college. This new funding will allow school districts to target the issues that are most critical to helping their students to achieve and provide the resources they need to put the right solutions to work. I want to thank Commissioner Elia, Chancellor Rosa and Regent Young for leading such an exemplary effort to give New York’s schools the support they need to put all our students on the path to success."

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said, "For years the Assembly has advocated to make higher education affordable for all students, but we also need to ensure that students are academically ready for college,” said Assemblymember Glick, chair of the Higher Education Committee. “The My Brother’s Keeper Challenge emphasizes the need for educational support and encouragement from birth to college to make sure that children begin school ready to learn and are reading at grade level. By keeping students on track throughout their education, we can be certain that when they graduate high school they are prepared to be successful in college." 

Assemblymember Michael Blake said, "As a national advisory board member of the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, I commend Speaker Heastie, Regent Dr. Young and Commissioner Elia for their leadership in addressing the needs of Boys and Young Men of Color. We need to engage not just the young men but their entire family and community if we want to give them the proper support they need to improve their outcomes from the cradle to the career. We must recognize the diversity of our community, and have materials in multiple languages to increase the access to the program. From hosting the launch of the MBK Alliance with President Obama in The Bronx to MBK Alliance CEO Blair Taylor co-hosting with me a Conversation with Cops and the Community at the Claremont Neighborhood Center in our district, this announcement is another demonstration of how we are living out the vision of empowering Boys and Young Men of Color in our community."