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November 21, 2017
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JP O'Hare

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New York State My Brother’s Keeper Community Network Reaches Significant Milestone with More Than 20 Member Communities Across New York State

The New York State My Brother’s Keeper Community Network reached a significant milestone and now includes more than 20 member communities, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today. The program recently added connections with Poughkeepsie and East Ramapo, the 20th and 21st communities to join the growing initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.

“Reaching more than 20 My Brother’s Keeper communities is a substantial milestone,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “It’s a testament to the important work being done to bring greater equity and opportunity to New York’s students, particularly students of color. Poughkeepsie and East Ramapo are welcome additions to our MBK network.”

“As New York State’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative expands, we reach more students, families, schools and communities with strategies to help boys and young men to realize their full potential,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “We thank Speaker Heastie for championing this initiative, so we could reach this important milestone in ensuring boys and young men of color are given opportunities to succeed in school and life.”

“The expansion of the MBK network to 21 communities is a clear indication of the positive momentum of the New York State My Brother’s Keeper movement,” Regent Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “The growth and strength of this movement are a reflection of the people in these 21 communities who have made boys and young men of color a priority, so they have the best possible chance to realize their full potential.”

"It is among the Assembly’s proudest achievements that New York enacted President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative into law,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “The mission of improving outcomes for boys and young men of color recognizes the unique challenges facing youth across our state. With each new member community that joins the campaign, we bring more stakeholders together to pursue solutions that will put success within reach of every student. I commend Commissioner Elia and Chancellor Rosa for their work to implement and expand this important effort in New York.”

“I believe that the NYSED My Brother's Keeper initiative is one of the most significant things accomplished in education in recent years” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “I am grateful to Speaker Heastie for his support, Commissioner Elia, Chancellor Rosa, Regent Young and all participants for their hard work and dedication. We are making a positive difference in children's lives with these programs."

To join the MBK Community Network, a community formally accepts an invitation from the Board of Regents and makes a commitment to support the national MBK milestones and the six New York State MBK goals. Upon becoming a member of the statewide network, a community gains the support of NYSED’s Office of Access, Equity and Community Engagement Services to help build a community initiative and develop a local MBK action plan.

The MBK communities, as well as other school districts, use grants awarded by NYSED to implement programs and strategies to help boys and young men of color succeed. For example, the Buffalo School District used the MBK Challenge grant to start a summer internship program allowing students to earn a stipend while working on developing professional skills. In Hudson, the Family and Community Engagement Program (FCEP) grant helps to fund a mentoring program that teaches middle school students discipline, perseverance, and structure while focusing on academic improvement and career exploration. Queens College is using its Teacher Opportunity Corps II (TOC II) grant to work on strategies to improve outcomes for students with disabilities and English language learners. In addition, pre-service teachers are learning to create culturally competent lesson plans that meet all students’ instructional needs.

The MBK Community Network has expanded across the state to these communities:

1.         Albany

2.         Bronx

3.         Brooklyn

4.         Buffalo

5.         Dunkirk

6.         East Ramapo

7.         Hudson

8.         Ithaca

9.         Lyons

10.       Manhattan

11.       Mt. Vernon

12.       Newburgh

13.       New Rochelle

14.       Ossining

15.       Poughkeepsie

16.       Queens

17.       Rochester

18.       Staten Island

19.       Town of Greenburgh

20.       White Plains

21.       Yonkers

In 2014, former President Barack Obama established the My Brother’s Keeper 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 2016–17 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. 

Earlier this year, NYSED awarded more than $6 million in grants to 42 school districts for the My Brother’s Keeper Family and Community Engagement Program. These grants support programs to increase the academic achievement and college and career readiness of boys and young men of color while fostering the development of effective relationships with families to promote the success of all students.

In 2016, NYSED awarded $7 million in MBK Challenge grants to 40 school districts. The MBK Challenge Grant Program is designed to encourage regions and school districts to develop and execute coherent cradle-to-career college strategies. These programs are aimed to develop and sustain effective relationships with families of boys and young men of color toward the goal of success for all students.

Also in 2016, NYSED awarded $3 million in Teacher Opportunity Corps II (TOC) grants to increase the participation rate of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged individuals in teaching careers. NYSED awarded grants to 16 colleges and universities to help them 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. 

Visit the Department’s My Brother’s Keeper website for details on the initiative.