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New York City's Young Men's Initiative Seeks Mentors, Teachers of Color

New York City plans to hire 1,000 male teachers of color, provide tutoring and other literacy support for 10,000 K-2 students, and find mentors for 5,000 young men of color. 

The initiatives are part of the second phase of the city's Young Men's Initiative, which started under former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to address challenges faced by young black and Latino men. 

The Young Men's Initiative is now aligned with President Barack Obama's My Brother's Keeper program, the mission of which is to improve educational and career opportunities for young men of color.

As part of those efforts, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Cyrus Garrett, a former political advisor to Bloomberg's gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, and former deputy director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, as the head of the Young Men's Initiative.

The program enlists various city agencies to work together to help black and Latino boys access training, mentoring and other resources in such areas as education, employment, health, housing and the justice system. The city education department, for example, is expected to play an important role in recruiting and training the teachers of color. Both the teachers' and the principals' and supervisors' unions are also expected to participate in the efforts to diversify the teaching corps.

The city hopes to meet the goals of the mentoring and tutoring programs by 2017 and have all 1,000 minority teachers in the classrooms by 2018.

The new efforts are aimed at increasing literacy, improving graduation rates, and "ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime." 

The Young Men's Initiative, according to the city, also will step up efforts to improve community relations between law enforcement and young men of color and increase opportunities for positive interactions between members of the two groups.

De Blasio ran in part on opposition to the police department's so-called "stop-and-frisk" policy, which many had criticized for targeting young minority men, and on a commitment to improve police-community relations. De Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have set about to repair those relationships, though those efforts suffered a setback in December after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a Eric Garner, a black man.

The city spends about $22.5 million annually on the Young Men's Initiative. It hopes to leverage additional funds from the private sector. According to Capital New York, the initiative started in 2011 with $145 million. About $60 million came from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Open Society Foundations. 

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