My Brother's Keeper Challenge
All children must have the opportunity, as I did, to believe the American Dream is truly within their reach.
-- Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin M. Quezada
(September 21, 2016) Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, along with the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, in collaboration with Dr. Jim Bostic of the Nepperhan Community Center and Yonkers Thrives today announced the City of Yonkers accepts President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Community Challenge and will implement a cradle-to-college and career mentoring program for young men of color in Yonkers.
Over 200 young men of color from eight Yonkers Public Schools with administrators and teachers, CNN Law Analyst Matthew Horace, New York State Regent Dr. Lester W. Young, Jr., Yonkers police and fire officers as well as former professional athletes including NBA Player Association President Mel Davis, former NBA players Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Lowes Moore and Olympian metal winner Erison Hurtault joined city officials and community partners for today’s announcement at Lincoln High School.
“Yonkers proudly accepts the challenge set forth by our president to create a robust and thoughtful program to unlock the full potential young men of color in Yonkers,” said Mayor Spano. “There are many young men who need help, who are not receiving positive reinforcement at home or otherwise and so it is incumbent on us as leaders in our communities to place them back on track so they can reach their full potential. Working with our community partners especially the Yonkers Public Schools, the Nepperhan Community Center and Yonkers Thrives, we can build ladders of opportunity for these young men – in and outside the classroom – by connecting them with mentors and help them achieve success.”
My Brother’s Keeper initiative addresses persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. Through this initiative, the City of Yonkers joins with cities and towns, businesses, and foundations across the country that are taking important steps to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college to become productive citizens.
Goals of an “MBK Community” are to ensure that:
- children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally prepared
- children read at grade level by third grade
- young people graduate from high school
- young people complete post‐secondary education or training
- youth out of school are employed
- young people are safe from violent crime and receiving the second chances they deserve
With the assistance of the Yonkers Public Schools, Nepperhan Community Center and Yonkers Thrives, My Brother’s Keeper in Yonkers will uniquely connect young men of color with a network of mentors and educational programs provided by the school district and the community that will foster education, employment and life and social skills for Yonkers youth. Yonkers joins 200 other communities that have accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge
“Educators constantly seek opportunities to engage our young men of color to achieve at high levels,” noted Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools. “What we have learned is that this work requires more than just great educators; it’s a challenge that must be embraced by the entire community. This initiative aligns with our work inviting citizens and businesses to open their hearts and contribute to the success of all students, helping them reach their full potential. All children must have the opportunity, as I did, to believe the American Dream is truly within their reach.”
Dr. Jim Bostic, Executive Director of Nepperhan Community Center stated, "President Barack Obama's My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge is a major step forward for the City of Yonkers, who I believe in many ways is still suffering from the ravages of years of segregated schools, and it's heretofore inability to effectively educate boys of color."
Mayor Spano added, “Yonkers has an advantage in accepting this challenge as we already have a MBK backbone in place to ensure the success of this program and of our children.”
Research shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career. For instance, large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of young black males and 82 percent of young Hispanic males reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of young white males reading below proficiency levels. Additionally, the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system alone is a perilous drag on state budgets, and undermines family and community stability. These young men are more than six times more likely to be victims of murder than their white peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.
For learn more and become a mentor with My Brother’s Keeper in Yonkers, visit yonkersny.gov/mbk.