Good news: New York will be the first state in the Union to enact President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program, an initiative set to help at-risk Black and Latino boys. According to reports, the Big Apple secured $20 million in the state budget to develop a state version of the program, which aims to keep Black and Latino males out of trouble by focusing their attention on constructive things in their schools, communities and families. Participants will also engage in professional and educational development with hopes of keeping them out of prison.
In an interview with the Daily News, Carl Heastie, New York’s first Black Assembly speaker who’s leading the initiative, said, “I was born and raised in the Bronx and I have seen firsthand the challenges that so many boys and young men of color face every day … We need to change the conversation around the achievement rates of African-American and Latino men so that successful futures become the rule and not the exception.”
According to Obama, part of the path to success for these males is based in education and job readiness. The nation’s first Black President developed My Brother’s Keeper in 2014, citing a need for a targeted program meant to keep boys of color in school, and prepared for college or a career upon graduation from high school.
While speaking with the Daily News, Heastie highlighted that when males of color drop out of high school, they’re likely to “become trapped in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.”
He said, “With this funding we are taking some meaningful steps toward a more holistic and comprehensive approach to improving the prospects of all our children, especially those who need our support the most.”
Heastie, 48, has gotten much attention since earning his appointment as the state’s first Black Assembly man. The self-proclaimed “reformer” vowed to bring accountability and integrity back to the statehouse. A year into the job, he’s certainly off to a great start.