Yonkers MBK Gala Raises Double Its Goal to Support Yonkers' Youth
More than 500 students, parents, community leaders, business people and dignitaries packed the ballroom at Castle Royale on September 27, 2018 to celebrate Yonkers My Brother’s Keeper’s second anniversary. The Gala event, Yonkers MBK’s first fundraiser, raised $60,000 to support and create cradle-to-college and career programs that open doors to success for Yonkers’ young men of color. Through tickets sales, sponsorships, journal advertising and in-kind donations, the event raised double the Gala Committee’s original goal of $30,000.
“Each dollar invested by these generous public and private MBK sponsors will create a ripple effect, improving the lives of Hispanic and African-American young people, their families and communities for generations to come,” said Yonkers Board of Education Trustee Edgar Santana, who was co-chair of the Gala Committee with Gregory Joyner, Yonkers MBK Program Coordinator, and Euthimios Theotokatos, Director of the Office of Constituent Services, City of Yonkers.
The Gala’s theme Building a Movement emphasized that My Brother’s Keeper is a dynamic initiative seeking to inspire lasting, widespread involvement. “As we celebrate our magnificent young men, we are reminded that MBK is a life-changing movement, not just a moment of festivity,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Co-Chair of Yonkers MBK with Rev. Dr. Jim Bostic, Executive Director of the Nepperhan Community Center.
Rev. Steve Lopez, President of Yonkers Board of Education, said, “Yonkers is blessed to have leaders of one mind and one heart, working together to uplift all our children. We encourage everyone to support the movement by providing jobs, internships, or by sharing advice, experience and love as an MBK mentor."
Hosted by MC Joe Torres, WABC-TV Anchor and Host of ‘Tiempo,’ the Gala included the presentation of inaugural awards to five honorees:
- New York State Regent Lester Young, Jr. – Champion of Equity Award
- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano – Leading the Way Award
- The Yonkers Guardians Association – Defenders of the Dream Award
- Gorton High School student Antonio Jones – Builder of the Future Award
- Palisade Preparatory School student Nuryel Benitez – Tomorrow’s Leader Today Award
Distinguished guest speakers and performers included:
- Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins – New York State Senate Democratic Leader
- Westchester County Executive George Latimer
- Aldrin Rafael Bonilla – Manhattan Deputy Borough President
- Frederick Joseph – CEO-Philanthropist and Creator of #BlackPantherChallenge
- Josh Johnson, tap dancer and inspirational entertainer
- Kevin Saunders – Spoken word performance artist, and founder of KS4Inspiration
- The Joey Berkley Quartet, sponsored by the Westchester Center for Jazz & Contemporary Music
Shawn Dove, CEO of Campaign for Black Male Achievement, New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Dr. Betty A. Rosa and many other luminaries attended to show their support.
“This year’s anniversary Gala far exceeded anything I could have hoped for,” said Rev. Dr. Jim Bostic. “It is the culmination of the hard work from every level of our community, from the Mayor’s office, to our Superintendent and his staff, to our community leaders and of course those on my staff as well who have committed themselves to making a difference in the lives of our boys and young men of color.”
Since Yonkers joined the national My Brother’s Keeper movement on September 21, 2016, dozens of dynamic programs and events have been created in Yonkers Schools and around the community to close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps facing young men of color. Yonkers MBK has elevated thousands of young people through these efforts.