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July 18, 2016
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JP O'Hare

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$9 Million in Grants Now Available for Family and Community Engagement Program and Teacher Opportunity Corps

Grants Part of New York State My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

The State Education Department (SED) is now accepting applications for $9 million in grants for two New York State My Brother’s Keeper Initiatives: the Teacher Opportunity Corps (TOC) and the Family and Community Engagement Program, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today.  These grant opportunities are available to develop programs and strategies to help boys and young men of color—and all students—realize their full potential.  

"Students are counting on us, and we have a chance to make history in New York State," said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa.  “The Regents and I are committed to bringing a greater degree of equity and social justice to our education system, and My Brother’s Keeper will play a critical role in those efforts.  This initiative represents a human rights approach that will help empower children and young adults whose interests have been neglected for far too long.  We know that we must recruit a more diverse school workforce that matches our diverse student population. Through programs funded with grants like these, My Brother's Keeper will create a model that can be emulated across the entire country.”

“I've seen the opportunities programs, like those funded by these grants, can provide for students and their families,” Commissioner Elia said.  “When families are more engaged, students do better in school and out.  These grants provide an opportunity to move forward, helping to provide not only for students but for entire communities. I thank Speaker Heastie for his leadership on TOC and the Family and Community Engagement Program and Assemblymembers Nolan, Glick and Blake for their support in attaining funding for these important programs.  Governor Cuomo and Majority Leader Flanagan were also supportive in making sure these programs received much-needed funding.” 

“We can start changing the lives of boys and young men of color in New York State right now,” Regent Lester Young said.  “I’ve witnessed firsthand how family and community engagement strategies can help all young people be successful. It’s clear that by expanding access to critical opportunities we can help young people get a better education, gain access to the middle class and fulfill their dreams.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The Assembly Majority has long been committed to eliminating barriers and expanding opportunities for New York's most vulnerable populations and communities. The president's My Brother's Keeper initiative inspired us to find more ways to open doors for those who too often get caught in the vicious cycle of poverty, specifically boys and young men of color. By creating a more equitable educational experience, ensuring access to much-needed resources and offering support for men of color and their families from birth to college to career, we can close the massive opportunity gaps that exist for too many New Yorkers."

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 TOC and Family and the Family and Community Engagement Program.

Teacher Opportunity Corp (TOC):

The purpose of TOC is to increase the participation rate of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged individuals in teaching careers.  SED seeks to invest $3 million in grant programs to bolster the retention of highly qualified individuals who value equity and reflect the diversity inside and outside of our classrooms, particularly in high-need schools with recurrent teacher shortages.  

To be eligible, applicants must be a New York State-located public or independent degree-granting postsecondary institution that offers a teacher preparation program approved by the NY State Education Department. 

Successful programs will incorporate proven strategies for teacher retention and best practice, such as providing mentors for new teachers and differentiated instructional techniques.  Applications must be received on or before August 22, 2016.  The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the grants is available at:

Family and Community Engagement Program:

The purpose of the Family and Community Engagement Program is to increase the academic achievement and college and career readiness of boys and young men of color and to develop and sustain effective relationships with families toward the goal of success for all students.  SED will award $6 million in grants for school districts, community-based organizations, and other groups to improve family engagement efforts in local communities.  

These efforts could include parent advocacy, incorporating the use of mentors to improve student achievement, or creating outreach material in home languages so families can learn how to enhance school success for their children, beginning at the earliest ages, through high school and beyond.  Applications must be received on or before August 25, 2016.  The RFP for the grants is available at:

Details on New York’s MBK Initiative can be found here: .

Assemblymember Cathy Nolan said, "There are so many factors that play a role in the education of our children. Family and community engagement are critical parts of the foundation for achievement and I am thankful that they are at the forefront of our efforts to implement the My Brother's Keeper initiative here in New York State. Fostering a strong support network will ensure that those students who need our help to overcome challenges and achieve can remain on the right track to complete their education. I commend Commissioner Elia, Chancellor Rosa and Regent Young for all of their hard work to make this important initiative a reality for our students."

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said, "These grants build on our efforts to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color by taking a holistic approach which engages everyone in the community. Ensuring that students have the encouragement and support they need both at home and in school is fundamental to educational success." 

Assemblymember Michael Blake said, "Given the state of race relations in our country and the need for healing and positive action for our Boys and Young Men of Color, the New York My Brother's Keeper program is perfectly timed to provide resources to schools and organizations that are transforming lives for communities of color.  As a national advisory board member of the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, I wholeheartedly commend Speaker Heastie, Regent Dr. Young and Commissioner Elia for their leadership because these grants will ensure that local leaders are #ChangingTheNarrative through taking successful efforts to scale and helping provide academic equity, economic opportunity and criminal justice reform for our Boys and young men of color."