A report released last week revealed that nearly 4,000 people have participated in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative, which is only in its first year.
Bloomberg launched the initiative last August to address the disparities in opportunities that slow the advancement of young African-American and Hispanic men between the ages of 16 and 24. The initiative does not exclude women or other ethnicities from their programs, but is primarily geared towards men.
With a three-year plan and a $127 million budget, the program was partially financed with $30 million of Bloomberg’s personal funds and through public-private partnerships that will invest more than $43 million a year in the program.
The Young Men’s Initiative aims to provide access to mentoring and educational programs, as well as employment and civic and community engagement opportunities, in an effort to lower poverty, reduce crime and lower unemployment and dropout rates.
“This cross-agency enterprise is the culmination of 18 months of work begun when the Mayor committed in his 2010 State of the City address to find new ways to tackle this crisis,” Bloomberg spokeswoman Samantha Levine said.
The Department of Probation, which is one of multiple city agencies taking part in this program, is impressed with how far the program has come in its first year.
“We are thrilled with the progress of the initiative,” said Department of Probation
spokesman Ryan Dodge.
Despite the progress, Bloomberg points out that there is still work to be done.
“We will continue to take aggressive steps to ensure that all New Yorkers are able to fully participate in the promise our city holds,” he said in a press release.
Many NYU students like LSP freshman Joseph Tavera, who falls under the targeted
demographic, approved of the initiative.
“It seems like a program that would benefit a lot of people my age and above, especially when they are still developing and trying to find their purpose in society,” Tavera said.
New York City resident Kafele Clementealso, 19, also championed the idea.
“It sounds like a good deal because as I am an African-American, and not all African-
Americans struggle, but I have been through a few struggles in my life so knowing that a [program] is going to change something sounds good to me,” Clemente said. “That helps a lot because a lot of young Black and Latino men who are fathers are struggling to take care of themselves because they made a mistake [at a young age] but knowing that they have a chance to get back out there is awesome.”
In spite of the positive reaction to the program, NYU professor of education Dr. Pedro Noguera, who was asked to serve on the advisory board for the Young Men’s Initiative, said that although Bloomberg deserves credit for acknowledging the major problem, this issue is far larger than the mayor understands.
“They were targeted because they bear the greatest hardships [such as] high dropout rates, high suspension rates, high incarceration and unemployment rates,” Noguera said. “Unfortunately, the YMI does not recognize the connections between these problems and instead treats them in isolation.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 11 print edition. Tanay Hudson is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.