Cambridge, MA — The Schott Foundation applauds New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist George Soros for their recent announcement of a citywide initiative to improve educational training and job opportunities for young Black and Latino men. The Young Men’s Initiative will be funded with a $127-million investment that includes $30 million from the Open Society Foundations, $30 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies and $67.5 million in city funding.
The Schott Foundation supports this as a step in the right direction. Last year Schott President, John Jackson served as an advisor to the Young Men’s Initiative. The Schott Foundation also released Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males. It showed that nationwide only 47 percent of Black males graduate from high school. At the time of the report, the estimated graduation rate for Black males in New York City, the largest school district in the country, was just 28 percent. Latino Males were often second to the bottom in states where Black males graduation rates were the lowest. Neither the city nor the nation will be globally competitive, nor will their democracy be effectively sustainable in the future, unless these rates improve.
To be truly effective, the City’s Young Men’s Initiative must be accompanied by systemwide actions that improve educational opportunity, beginning with high-quality early childhood education and continuing through with college-preparatory curriculum for all. Only then will be we able to create long-term changes that lift Black males out of lives of poverty.
The Open Society Foundations’ partnership follows its successful effort to address injustice in the education system in Baltimore, as well as a nationwide Campaign for Black Male Achievement. “The Young Men’s Initiative is a sorely needed, comprehensive program that aims to transform the lives of New York’s most vulnerable children,” said George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Foundations. “I believe this will help make our city a stronger and better place and set an example for the rest of the country.”
“Private philanthropy often plays a leadership role in drawing public attention to problems and focusing public will on solutions. But it’s not a substitute for public policy,” said John H. Jackson, the President and CEO of the Schott Foundation. “We definitely applaud this outstanding financial commitment and hope it will be expanded into political commitment to ensure that the city and state have the revenue and expenditure priorities in place to continue this work.”
The Schott Foundation, which is focused on eliminating the opportunity gap that is fueling a persistent achievement gap, aims to hold federal, state, and local leaders accountable for ensuring that all children, regardless of where they live, have equitable access to an opportunity to learn. We must make sure all children have access to the four building blocks research has proven are needed for academic success: high-quality early childhood education; highly prepared and effective teachers; rigorous college-prep curriculum; and equitable instructional materials and policies.