New York – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday announced a $126.5 million publicly and privately funded plan to provide greater opportunities for young Latino and African-American men.
Among young black and Hispanic men, "too often their stories end in poverty, violence, or prison," Bloomberg said at a gathering co-hosted by the Council of Urban Professionals and the New America Alliance.
The mayor will contribute $30 million out of his own pocket, an amount to be matched by financier and fellow billionaire George Soros, while the remaining $67.5 million will come from public funds.
The program will benefit more than 300,000 Hispanic and African-American males between the ages of 16 and 24.
"As mayor I work for every person in this city, in every borough. And I - we - have an obligation to try and extend opportunity's promise to every community," Bloomberg said, citing the higher rates of poverty, crime and unemployment among Latino and African-American youth.
"Blacks and Latinos are not fully sharing in the promise of American freedom and far too many are trapped in circumstances that are difficult to escape," he said.
"Even though skin color in America no longer determines a child's fate, sadly it tells us far more about a child's future than it should," the mayor said, noting that "young black and Latino boys are twice as likely as white children to grow up in poverty, twice as likely to drop out of school, and twice as likely to end up out of work."
This situation, he said, is not something "we are willing to accept here in New York City. Not today. Not ever."
Bloomberg said his plan, the Young Men's Initiative, is the first of its kind in the United States targeting the problems of those two population groups and contains specific policies and programs in the areas of education, health, employment and the justice system.
The education programs will focus on 40 New York City schools that have already achieved higher minority graduation rates and will include programs that foster greater parent participation in their children's schooling.
"Over the next five years, the program will help black and Latino male students graduate - ready to take the next steps in college or their careers," he said.
It also will facilitate access to medical and reproductive health services among those population groups and promote employment by investing $25 million and $9 million, respectively, in two jobs initiatives.
The program also will fund the cost of mentoring services for young men on parole in an effort to reduce recidivism.