When the Western hemisphere wakes up to a new day later today, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce an ambitious plan to generate educational and job opportunities for the city's black and Latino young men. Here’s the kicker, $30 million of the whopping $127 million assigned to the programme is from Bloomberg’s own purse. By KHADIJA PATEL.
Bloomberg has also managed to twist the arm of his fellow billionaire George Soros to match his contribution. The balance of the financing, however, will come from public funds.
Bloomberg will make the announcement when he addresses New York’s disparity between black and Latino men between the ages of 16 and 24 and the rest of the city. While New York has roughly the same number of white, black and Latino men, black and Latino men make up 84% of the populations of the city’s detention facilities. Nearly all of those admitted to children’s and family services are either black or Latino.
Under the programme, which is likely to be called “The Young Men’s Initiative”, the city’s probation department will be overhauled. Five satellite probation offices will be opened in neighbourhoods with the highest crime rates with the noble intention of connecting men on probation with work and educational opportunities and mitigating the tendency to recidivism. The New York Times, which broke the story, quotes the mayor’s office describing the programme as America’s “boldest and most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men”.
The programme will also include job placement, fatherhood classes and training for probation officers and school staff on how to help these young men get ahead. Of course, Bloomberg’s office won’t be going it alone, and has roped in more than a dozen city agencies to help.
Of the $127 million, $18 million will go to “transformative mentoring and literacy services” and $24 million will go to a school programme called the Expanded Success Initiative that aims to close the achievement gap between racial and ethnic groups in graduation rates. Another $25 million will expand Jobs-Plus, an agency that helps find employment for residents of public housing projects.
Bloomberg is also expected to announce new measures to “hold schools accountable” for the performance of black and Latino boys. His plan, while clearly nobly intentioned, is set to draw fire from activists who believe the dense population of black and Latino men in New York’s jails is a result of discriminatory practices by New York police.
Just in case you thought South Africa had problems with racial stereotypes, Bloomberg’s programme will also offer yoga classes to help young black men “control their anger”. DM
Bloomberg to Use Own Funds in Plan to Aid Minority Youth at New York Times.
Watermelons were originally cultivated in Africa.