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February 16, 2017
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



State Education Department Awards $300,000 to Albany & Rochester City School Districts to Help Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth

The City School District of Albany and the Rochester City School District will receive a total of $300,000 in state and federal grants to implement the Connecting Youth in Transition program, the State Education Department announced today. Working in partnership with the cites of Albany and Rochester, the districts will provide opportunities for young people who are not in school or working to achieve significant improvements in educational, employment and other key outcomes.

“These grant funds build upon our work through the New York State My Brother’s Keeper program to help children reach their full potential and reduce achievement gaps for our students of color,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “These programs will engage young people who have become disconnected from the educational system and need our supports now more than ever so they can succeed in life. These grants will bring needed supports and resources to the youth residing in the Albany and Rochester communities.”

State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, “I thank both Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Mayor Lovely Warren, as well as Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins and Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams, for their partnership and progressive thinking that allowed us to submit a successful application to the federal government. Through this funding, these city school districts, along with their city partners, will be able to reach young people who face significant barriers on their path to their future and give them every opportunity to become successful in college and their desired career.”

Disconnected youth are young people between the ages of 14 and 24 who are: at risk of dropping out of school or have dropped out of school; unemployed; involved in the juvenile justice system; homeless; in foster care; or from low-income families. 

With the funding, SED, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, and the respective Mayors’ offices and school districts will partner with community-based organizations and child-serving agencies to engage young people who are disconnected from educational and employment systems so they can achieve success in education and employment. The district will hire transition coordinators who will provide intensive case management services to disconnected youth in those communities.

The $300,000 in grants includes $150,000 for each community over two years with approximately half provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Performance Partnership Pilot funds and the remaining funds provided by the NYS Education Department and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG), which is administered by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The DCJS Office of Youth Justice provides staff to the state’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, which oversees grants provided to New York State through the federal Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act; develops the state’s juvenile justice plan; and monitors any racial and ethnic disparities that may occur in the juvenile justice system. Among other responsibilities, the Office of Youth Justice collaborates with the State Office of Children and Family Services, which directly serves youths involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Michael C. Green, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, said, “DCJS and the State’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group are committed to helping communities implement evidence-based practices and intervention services that give at-risk youth the best chance of leading productive lives. We are pleased to partner with the State Education Department on this project and hope it can serve as a model for other communities seeking to improve services for justice-involved youth, reduce recidivism and improve public safety.”

City of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “The awarding of $150,000 to the Albany City Schools for the Connecting Youth in Transition initiative will help expand the successful programming offered by the City of Albany’s My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper, LIGHT (Learning, Initiative and Gaining Headway Together) Summer Youth Employment, and YouthBuild programs. These initiatives are focused on identifying and serving hundreds of disconnected and under-represented young people in City of Albany by providing summer employment, internships, and job training. I thank the U.S. Department of Education, and New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia for her leadership and dedication to supporting our City’s youth.”

City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, “An investment in our youth is an investment in our future, one that I’m thankful New York State recognizes and continues to make. Frederick Douglass once said: ‘It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ By providing quality educational opportunities and focusing on our children, not only do we improve their outcomes but we also create more jobs and make our neighborhoods safer and more vibrant. 

The City School District of Albany Acting Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins said, “So many young people face roadblocks that make it difficult to succeed in school and beyond.  We look forward to working with our community and government partners on this initiative to reach these disconnected young people.”

Rochester City School District Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams said, “Our young people are the most vulnerable members of our community, and are always faced with challenging situations, some of which result in them not being in school or working towards employment opportunities. It is very gratifying that the New York State Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education have acknowledged these challenges, recognized a need, and made a decision to fund this type of program to reconnect youth during this transitional time. We look forward to working collaboratively to empower our vulnerable youth so they can achieve significant improvements in educational, employment and other key outcomes to meet their full potential.”