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young men's initiative
August 14, 2015
At hands-on program, black and Latino boys aim for selective colleges
The Urban Ambassadors program handpicks promising students from schools that don’t typically send students to four-year colleges — so far, it's had impressive results.
Student & School Performance
July 21, 2014
NYC signs onto Obama’s push to give young minority men a lift
New York City is among 60 of the nation’s largest urban school districts that are pledging to help President Barack Obama push an initiative to improve…
October 9, 2013
NYC picks four ed nonprofits to get Young Men’s Initiative funding
A group that helps Riker’s Island inmates imagine a future in college and a group that provides science and math resources to high-need students are among the winners of city funding to help black and Latino young men succeed. The city’s Young Men’s Initiative, in conjunction with the Ashoka Foundation, is doling out $35,000 through a competition to find young men and groups with “ideas that would increase opportunities and reduce disparities among young black and Latino men.” See our coverage of the two-year-old Young Men’s Initiative here. Here’s how the city’s press release describes the grand-prize winner and three runners-up:
October 7, 2013
In study, black and Latino students explain their paths to college
The Expanded Success Initiative Leadership Summit brought together students from the 40 participating schools in June. One student credited a specific teacher who taught English like a college-level course. Some recalled their parents not allowing them to spend time outside to avoid gang activity. Others remembered teachers who calmed them before taking the SAT. Those were some of the responses students gave in new study that worked backwards from male black and Latino students' success, looking at college-bound, academically successful high school juniors and seniors at 40 schools and asking, what worked? To find the answers, a group of University of Pennsylvania researchers in conjunction with the city interviewed more than 400 high school students and recent graduates who had at least a 3.0 grade point average, were involved in extracurricular activities, and planned to attend college (or were already attending). The students attended the 40 high schools selected last year to be a part of the Expanded Success Initiative, each with at least 60 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. The results are a fascinating look at the students' lives. You can read the whole study here, but we picked out some highlights:
June 7, 2013
To cap first year, Expanded Success Initiative convenes teens
At the year-end summit today of a city program to boost achievement among male students of color, inspirational speakers were only the opening act.
October 11, 2012
City slowly backs up shifted rhetoric on parents, needy students
Like the Bloomberg administration's schools reform efforts, our series tracking the city's progress toward fulfilling its recent education policy promises started last month with teachers and schools. Now we are turning toward the students and families they serve. It's a shift that city officials also made in the last year. For nearly a decade, the Department of Education's approach to helping needy students focused largely on creating excellent new schools and closing ones that don't work. But its policies drew fierce criticism that families were shut out of decisions and that some student groups had not benefited from years of initiatives. Last year, the first that Chancellor Dennis Walcott led in full, city officials announced some changes to its approach, introducing policies aimed at helping students and parents. Concrete actions have been slow to come, but we found that the department is slowly plugging away at creating programs to back up last year's rhetoric shifts. (Each promise is in bold, followed by an explanation of how far the city has come toward meeting it.) On students: The city will study high schools that graduate black and Latino students at high rates to find out what they are doing right. (Mayor Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative speech, August 2011) The study is the intended outcome of the Expanded Success Initiative, the flagship education program of Mayor Bloomberg's recent effort to help black and Latino young men. The three-year, $24 million program got underway in June, when the city named 40 schools to monitor as they pioneer new college-readiness strategies funded with grants of $250,000 each. The city will decrease the concentration of high-need students in some schools. (Communication with the state, June 2012) Responding to pressure from State Education Commissioner John King, the city quietly embarked on a pilot program to distribute students who enroll during the school year and summer over a wider swath of schools, despite steadfastly maintaining that high concentrations of needy students do not make it harder for schools to succeed. The city gets about 20,000 new high school students, called "over-the-counters," each year, and they have traditionally wound up in a small number of struggling schools. Last year, about 800 of them went to 54 high schools that have not usually accepted midyear arrivals. But many schools still receive few or no over-the-counter students, while others complain they receive more than they can handle. All city high schools, even those with selective admissions processes, will accept students with disabilities. (Directive to schools, June 2012)
October 4, 2012
City touts justice reform, other Young Men's Initiative outcomes
Jim St. Germain (second from left), who attended a Boystown school, said he thought the "Close to Home" law would help juvenile offenders. More than 4,000 black and Latino young men have already been affected by the constellation of programs and services in the city’s Young Men’s Initiative, Mayor Bloomberg announced today. Over one thousand young black and Latino men found jobs through expanded training and placement programs, according to a city report about the initiative's first year. Hundreds of men between the ages of 17 and 24 received special instruction aimed at boosting their reading skills. And dozens fewer students were suspended at 20 schools that piloted a less punitive approach to discipline. But it was a change that has so far involved just 50 young men that dominated Bloomberg’s attention at a press conference to tout the progress. When the Young Men’s Initiative kicked off in August 2011, Bloomberg said the city would lobby for juvenile justice reform to stop young offenders in New York City from being sent to private detention centers upstate. The “Close to Home” law that does just that passed in March. Already, 50 juvenile offenders have been relocated from upstate facilities to residential treatment centers in the city. As many as 250 will arrive before the end of the year, city officials said. Joined at a press conference by Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Deputy Schools Chancellor Dorita Gibson at Passages Academy, one of five alternative schools expected to enroll the new arrivals, Bloomberg said the shift would give court-involved students a better chance of graduating from high school. For the first time this year, the credits the students earn during their time at the centers will count towards their high school graduation requirements.
July 17, 2012
Bloomberg credits boosts in test results to new school initiatives
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, and Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky walked reporters through a powerpoint presentation on the city's latest test score results. This afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg enjoyed what could be his last opportunity to point to clear gains on city test data. The state is overhauling its testing program next year, and year-to-year comparisons favored by Bloomberg's test analysts will soon become futile. Until then, city officials are championing the small gains almost every group of students made on this year's state tests, calling the scores a sign that some fledgling school initiatives are already working. Breaking the test results down by race, grade level and students with disabilities, each group saw gains of one to four percentage points for the numbers of students scoring proficient on the literacy and math exams. But students of color are still performing well below their white peers, and the number of English Language Learners scoring proficient in literacy actually dropped by 1.8 percentage points. "There is still a gap, and it is unacceptable, inexcusable and it is our responsibility to rectify it," Bloomberg told reporters this afternoon. He speculated that the ELL scores dropped because the city has begun declassifying greater numbers of ELL students who have become proficient in English.
June 22, 2012
Walcott, football star urge rising HS students to plan for college
Chancellor Walcott and football player Denard Robinson (center) speak with Javier Sarmiento, an eighth grader at I.S. 195 Roberto Clemente. Sarmiento will be attending Central Park East High School in the fall. In its latest effort to get young, male students thinking about the path to college, the city enlisted glow-sticks and a Big Ten football player.
June 21, 2012
Schools picked to pioneer college prep program for young men
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott speaks at And thean Expanded Success Initiative announcement. 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."
April 24, 2012
Walcott touts Young Men's Initiative as DOE inches forward
Chancellor Walcott speaks at the Mayor's Young Mens Initiative Summit in Harlem. Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott wanted attendees at the Mayor's Young Men's Initiative Summit to know that even programs with the best intentions can be tricky to execute. This lesson, he said, would be particularly important for city officials as they implement a sweeping new initiative to address the educational and economic disparities between male students of color and their peers. Walcott stopped by the day-long summit to represent the Department of Education, which is leading up the Expanded Success Initiative, one of several prongs of the Bloomberg administration's Young Men's Initiative. At a cost of $24 million, the project will bring researchers into schools that are succeeding with male students of color. But nearly nine months after it was announced, the department still hasn't picked which schools to show off. The city has assembled a shortlist of 81 eligible schools and will by the end of May pick 40 who want to participate — and receive a $250,000 bonus. To be eligible, a school must have a four-year graduation rate above 65 percent, an A or B on its most recent progress report, and a student body where at least 35 percent are black or Latino males and 60 percent are qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. It must also promise to implement even more aggressive strategies to help black and Latino male students. When he announced the Young Men's Initiative in August, Mayor Bloomberg promised swift changes to schools serving the highest proportions of black and Latino students. Already, the department has begun giving high schools extra credit when those students make progress. Schools have started to benefit from a literacy program and a middle school mentoring initiative, neither of which the department is administering. But the Expanded Success Initiative has been slow to start.
March 22, 2012
Mentoring program pairs Latina students and strong role models
Mairelys Alberto, Pilar Larancuent, and Ana Banegas address a group of Latina students at a Mentoring Latinas panel discussion on Wednesday. As a young adult watching Univision in the Bronx, Ana Banegas — now a Fordham University graduate student — was galvanized by the "Orgullo Hispano" campaign. Banegas, who immigrated from Honduras when she was eight years old, told her mother that one day she would be worthy of Orgullo Hispano, or Hispanic Pride. Now, as a mentor through Fordham's Mentoring Latinas program, Banegas can pass that vision to city students who are not so different from herself at their age. Mentoring Latinas, founded in 2003, pays college students to build relationships with Latina girls in the Bronx, with the goal of empowering the young women and encouraging them to aim higher in school. In the last year, the city launched an initiative to help young Latino men find employment and perform better in school. Girls, who typically do better in school and are less likely to run into trouble with the law, aren't part of the initiative. But Latina girls need a helping hand, too. Mentoring Latinas cites statistics about Latinas' high birth rate — more than half of Latinas have at least one child before age 20 — and high rate of attempted suicide to explain why young women need positive role models and receptive ears. The mentors and mentees typically pair off on Wednesday afternoons, spending time bonding while walking through campus talking about their lives and futures. This week, they came together in a bright room on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus for a panel discussion featuring Banegas; Mairelys Alberto, the outreach programs coordinator at El Museo del Barrio; and Pilar Larancuent, a youth development coordinator at Graham Windham. The trio spoke to girls who attend Belmont Preparatory High School and M.S. 45 Thomas C. Giordano, their Fordham mentors, and Mentoring Latina sponsors — including representatives of AT&T, which partly funds the initiative through Aspire Grants.
December 1, 2011
Students, advocates rail against suspension trends at hearing
Nilesh Wishwasrao, a former student at Flushing High School, said he's been suspended from school so many times that he finally lost count. "Their first reaction was always a suspension," Wishwasrao recalled Wednesday at a City Council hearing about the Department of Education's suspension data released last month. Wishwasrao said he was suspended "constantly" for what he said were small infractions, such as chewing gum and wearing a hat in school. Sometimes he was more disruptive, "talking back to a teacher, yelling at a dean." Finally, Wishwasrao testified, a guidance counselor met with his father to explain that high school probably wasn't right for him and "it would be better if I get a GED rather than a high school diploma." Wishwasrao never graduated and is now pursuing his GED. Wishwasrao was part of a chorus of criticism from students and advocates who testified at the hearing, held by the City Council's education committee. Their testimonies came directly after DOE officials shed more light on suspensions in the city schools and promised changes to how some suspensions are handled. At least 45,939 students — or 4.5 percent of the city's student population — were suspended during the 2010-2011 school year, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said in her testimony. The majority of them — 70 percent — were suspended just once, she said, but more than one in 10 — about 6,000 students — were suspended three or more times.
September 23, 2011
DOE priorities seen in fresh tweaks to progress report formula
In an education department that's driven by data, what gets measured is a clear expression of values. So this year's elementary and middle school progress reports signal that the city is serious about integrating disabled students into regular classes, helping minority boys, and quickly getting immigrant students learning in English. The broad contours of what we'll see later today when the Department of Education releases the newest progress reports, based on the last school year, have been clear for months. Back in the spring, the DOE told principals that it would not insulate schools against steep score drops as it did last year, so we know that more schools will get failing grades that put them at risk of closure. In fact, the department set a fixed distribution of scores: 25 percent of schools will get As, 35 percent Bs, 30 percent Cs, 7 percent Ds, and 3 percent Fs. Last year, just 5 percent of schools were awarded D or F grades. We also know each school's state test scores, announced last month. While high or low average scores don't always equate to high or low progress report grades, because the reports are based mostly on the test scores, they often do. (The department is also guaranteeing that schools with test scores in the top third citywide get no lower than a C; last year, only schools in the top quarter got that promise.) Also, because fewer schools registered large test score gains or losses this year, progress report grades are likely to be relatively stable. That means that the biggest changes could come as the result of the department's annual tinkering with the reports' formula.
August 4, 2011
DOE dealt large portion of funds to narrow achievement gap
One of the largest pots of money in the city's new initiative to aid black and Latino young men is going to the Department of Education. Of the initiative's $127 million price tag, $24 million will be used to study and develop the best practices of city high schools that have best prepared male minority students for college and work. Billionaire philanthropist George Soros will foot the bill for the three-year program, called the Expanded Success Initiative. The funding will allow the Department of Education to hire a team of research consultants to study 40 high schools with a track record of bridging the achievement gap for black and Latino male students. Josh Thomases, the DOE's deputy chief academic officer charged with coordinating the program, said the city had not yet identified the schools that would be studied. “We’re looking for schools with a high concentration of black and Latino boys, with high poverty and Title I funding, but with an evidence of success,” Thomases said. “We’re agnostic to what kind of school it is,” he added. “We’re looking at the schools that have had success graduating black and Latino boys at a high school level and expanding it to other schools." Thomases, citing a study published by Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) last year, said that he would look particularly close at small high schools in New York City, which have shown higher rates of graduation and credit accumulation.
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