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Students in Urban Ambassadors work together to prepare for a class debate on Common Core.

Students in Urban Ambassadors work together to prepare for a class debate on Common Core.

Sabrina Rodriguez

My Brother’s Keeper initiative kicks off in New York State with family engagement, teacher diversity grants

New York state officials are kicking off an ambitious plan to boost educational outcomes for boys and young men of color with $9 million in grants, officials announced Monday.

The funding is designed to chip away at troubling statistics that show boys and young men of color graduate at lower rates, drop out at higher rates, and are suspended at higher rates than their white peers.

The initial grants are divided into two categories — one will support schools that demonstrate an investment in family and community outreach, and another will be allocated to colleges committed to training diverse teachers.

The schools applying for the family outreach funding need to engage parents “beyond mailings [and] automated phone calls,” increase translation services, and dedicate themselves to social and emotional learning. The teacher-focused grants, an extension of the Teacher Opportunity Corps program, require colleges to offer prospective teachers a combination of tuition help, internships in struggling schools, and mentoring during the first year of teaching.

The state’s program to improve the education of boys and young men of color was, in part, inspired by President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which served as a nationwide call to address the opportunity gap. The program became a reality for New York State when the state legislature allocated $20 million in this year’s budget for the initiative.

The grants announced Monday are slated to roll out in schools this fall. Approximately 60 schools will receive the family and community engagement grants, state officials said.

Information about how to apply for each grant is available here and here.

“We can start changing the lives of boys and young men of color in New York State right now,” Regent Lester Young said. “By expanding access to critical opportunities we can help young people get a better education, gain access to the middle class and fulfill their dreams.”

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