Press release courtesy of the New York State Education Department
The New York State My Brother’s Keeper Community Network now includes 25 member communities, Interim State Education Commissioner Beth Berlin announced Oct. 4, 2019. The program recently added connections with Peekskill and Monticello City, the 24th and 25th communities to join the growing initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
“Reaching 25 My Brother’s Keeper communities is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “It’s evidence that these programs are working, that they’re making a difference in the lives of boys and young men of color. We are proud to welcome Peekskill and Monticello City to our MBK network.”
“As New York State’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative continues to expand, it provides more students with programs and strategies that help them realize their full potential,” said Interim State Education Commissioner Beth Berlin. “We thank Speaker Carl E. Heastie for his continued support for MBK to ensure that boys and young men of color are provided with high quality opportunities.”
“The My Brother’s Keeper network continues to grow each year with the addition of new communities,” said Regent Lester W. Young, Jr. “It’s clear that New York schools are dedicated to the My Brother’s Keeper movement, and these 25 communities are taking the commitment a step further to support boys and young men of color in reaching their full potential.”
To join the NYS MBK Community Network, the school superintendent and local government official must sign a joint letter to NYSED indicating their support of, and commitment to meeting the six MBK National 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, school districts and higher education partners use grants awarded by NYSED to implement programs and strategies to help boys and young men of color succeed. For example, Syracuse used the MBK Challenge grant to host a leadership conference in which community leaders provided students with insight on teamwork, goal settling and overcoming obstacles. At Peekskill Central School District, the Family and Community Engagement Program (FCEP) grant helps to fund a Saturday Academy program that provides community members with free services and resources such as dental screenings, academic workshops, yoga classes and more. Sarah Lawrence College is using its Teacher Opportunity Corps II (TOC II) grant to offer a TOC II Equity and Diversity Seminar. The seminar engages all teacher candidates in authentic dialogues on the issues of racism and gender, and how bias can impact students, especially boys and young men of color, in their classrooms. TOC II institutions aim to develop their pre-service teachers’ capacity to create culturally competent lesson plans that meet all students’ instructional needs.
The following communities are part of the MBK Community Network:
The MBK Initiative
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.
In 2018, NYSED awarded more than $1.15 million in grants to five schools for the MBK Exemplary School Models and Practices program. Grant recipients partner with demographically similar Struggling or Persistently Struggling schools in another district within their region to replicate exemplary practices that demonstrate cultural and linguistic responsiveness to emphasize the needs of boys and young men of color. Also in 2018, NYSED awarded nearly $750,000 in grants to 11 school districts for the MBK Native American Program, to increase the academic achievement and college/career readiness of Native American students, with an emphasis on boys and young men.
Since 2016, NYSED has awarded more than $24 million in grants to 45 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.
Since 2016, NYSED has awarded $21 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 since 2016, NYSED awarded $12 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.