YONKERS – Last Wednesday, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation, announced that Yonkers, New York is one of four MBK Model Communities, a new initiative that seeks to expand the implementation of evidence-based practices and impact for communities across the country. Yonkers was selected from a network of hundreds of cities that have an evidence-based track record of success in positively shifting outcomes for boys and young men of color. Each MBK Model Community represents a tangible example of the systems-level impact that communities can have when working to achieve the MBK Milestones. The MBK Milestones are six key life milestones that research shows are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact. Yonkers Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Quezada joined President Obama onstage at an MBK Impact in Action convening to share the city’s efforts to improve high school graduation rates for students of color.
“It’s being intentional about our work to change outcomes for young men of color,” said Dr. Edwin M. Quezada. “Graduating from high school is one of their most important milestones. Their diploma is the key that opens doors to opportunities for whatever our young people of color can dream. Success must be part of their life experience. In partnership with the MBK Alliance this is a reality in our learning community. Ninety percent (90%) of our young men of color graduate on time. We work tirelessly so that our young men know they are valued, accepted, respected, cared for, and loved. In Yonkers, we are My Brother’s Keeper.”
“I accepted the challenge knowing the potential our students had,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “Our Yonkers School District has the highest graduation rate among New York State’s big cities. Our students are motivated and committed to this initiative and have turned it into a movement. I am so proud our great City has been chosen as an MBK Model Community because of our commitment and dedication to improving the lives of young men of color and helping them rise and become solid leaders in our community and for the next generation. We know this designation will make us a model for other urban districts and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance for years to come.”
“In 2014, in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, I challenged every community in the country to implement strategies to help boys and young men of color,” said President Obama. “Today, I’m proud to see the incredible impact My Brother’s Keeper Alliance communities are having – helping hundreds of community leaders across the country solve problems for the next generation. Thanks to the tireless efforts of MBK communities, cities like Yonkers have changed the odds – creating opportunities for our young people to achieve their full potential. The MBK Model Communities initiative represents the next phase of the MBK Alliance’s work to help communities take on their biggest challenges – and I look forward to continuing this work alongside them for years to come.”
“As we strive to build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color across the country, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is proud to recognize Yonkers as an MBK Model Community,” said Dr. Adren Wilson, MBK Alliance Executive Director. “Yonkers has demonstrated a commitment to Milestone Three: Graduate from High School, achieving the highest high school graduation rate for young people of color in the state of New York. By providing direct coaching, peer-to-peer learning, financial resources, and evaluation support, the MBK Alliance is confident that Yonkers will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and best practices for other communities to follow. Together, we can ensure our boys and young men of color have access to the opportunities they need, including the opportunity to graduate from high school with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.”
Each selected MBK Model Community has achieved significant impact in at least one of the six MBK Milestones by instituting programming and initiatives that have positively shifted outcomes in the educational or violence reduction ecosystems throughout their municipal areas. Yonkers was chosen for their demonstrating impact in MBK Milestone Three: Graduate from High School – All youth should receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.
According to the New York State Department of Education, Yonkers, New York, has the highest high school graduation rate for young people of color in the state of New York at 91 percent.
The Yonkers Public School System will lead the Model Communities initiative for MBK Yonkers. The Obama Foundation’s MBK Alliance will provide MBK Yonkers with the necessary support to continue implementing systems-level change in these areas and to grow their impact in other areas within their municipal infrastructure. Specifically, the MBK Alliance will provide MBK Yonkers with:
● Access to direct coaching, evaluation support, and peer-to-peer learning
● Direct resources, including an $800,000 grant ($400,000 a year for two years)
● Ongoing technical assistance for their work
By investing in and spotlighting Yonkers as an MBK Model Community, the MBK Alliance intends to seed other communities across the country with knowledge, best practices, and resources so that they too can achieve systems-level impact in the lives of boys and young men of color.