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Schools picked to pioneer college prep program for young men

And then there were 40.

Earlier this year the Department of Education named 81 schools that could be eligible to lead one of the most significant educational programs in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative.

Last month, 57 schools submitted proposals for the pot of funds attached to the program,  called the Expanded Success Initiative. The funds would go toward programs to improve the college readiness rates of male students.

The 40 schools that made the cut were named today. They will receive $250,000 each to pioneer new college-readiness strategies. Monitors will evaluate the progress the schools make over the course of the coming year and provide feedback for what may eventually become citywide policies.

The schools were selected because they have already made strides serving youth of color, but they are still struggling to meet the city’s new college readiness metrics, officials said. To be eligible, schools were required to have a four-year graduation rate above 65 percent, to have received an A or B on their most recent progress reports, and to have student bodies comprised of at least 35 percent are black or Latino males and 60 percent are qualified for free or reduced-price lunch.

“You have done well in your high school graduation rate, but now we’ve redefined  the message, along with the state,”  Chancellor Dennis Walcott told an audience of school leaders and students at an event today welcoming schools to the initiative. “It’s no longer just about high school graduation, it’s about college and career readiness, making sure all of our students can attain that high goal.”

To apply for the funds, schools submitted proposals for how they would improve their academics (which the DOE expects them to align to the Common Core), encourage students to think about their academic and social development, and improve their school culture, for example by offering more internships and out-of-class activities.

Holger Carrillo, principal of Brooklyn’s High School for Enterprise, Business and Technology, said his application focused on his plans to expand a 60-student college awareness class to his entire ninth-grade. He said the funds would also pay for field trips and improvements to the math curriculum to better prepare students for college-level work.

“We want to make a difference for the incoming ninth graders. We want them to see and experience the college life and the college application process,” he said. “It will provide life skills to be able to maintain certain achievement levels throughout high school and then later on take it to college.”

The goal, he said, is to make sure students are not only prepared to enter college, but stick with it until their college graduations.

“We looked at the Where are They Now Report and saw that only about 20 or 22 percent of our students [stayed] in college,” he said about a report the city generates for tracking its high school graduates. “Why is it that they are not continuing and being successful in college?”

Principal Maria Herrera also emphasized the importance of life skills lessons in the application for her school, the Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology in the Bronx. She said male students who need support would be able to attend after school study hall-like counseling groups and will be paired with out-of-school mentors. In those study hall groups they will also be given assessments to identify gaps in their academic knowledge.

“A lot of the students spend so much more time with us than they do at home, so what is appropriate behavior, how do you communicate with adults differently than you do with your peers?” she said. “If we want them to feel really included, they need to develop strong relationships so they can feel part of a community so they can feel that they have an influence in the choices the school makes as part of their education.”

The 40 schools selected for ESI funding are:

  • Academy for Young Writers
  • ACORN Community High School
  • All City Leadership Secondary School
  • Bronx Academy of Letters
  • Bronx Leadership Academy II
  • Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment
  • Brooklyn High School for Law and Technology
  • Brooklyn Preparatory High School
  • Central Park East High School
  • Channel View School for Research
  • Collegiate Institute for Math & Science
  • Eagle Academy for Young Men
  • East Bronx Academy for the Future
  • East Side Community School
  • El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice
  • Essex Street Academy
  • Explorations Academy
  • Frederick Douglass Academy VII
  • George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences
  • High School for Law Enforcement
  • High School for Civil Rights & Law
  • High School for Enterprise, Business, and Technology
  • High School for Law and Public Service
  • High School for Sports Management
  • High School for Service and Learning
  • Manhattan Bridges High School
  • Mott Hall Bronx High School
  • New Design High School
  • Performing Arts and Technology High School
  • Queens Preparatory Academy
  • Queens Vocational and Technical HS
  • Renaissance School
  • School for Human Rights
  • Science, Technology and Research Early College High School at Erasmus
  • Teachers Preparatory High School
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change
  • Transit Tech Career and Technical Education High School
  • Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports
  • Urban Assembly School for Design and Construction
  • Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design