New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new initiative Thursday, funded in part by billionaire hedge funder George Soros and himself, which aims to improve the lives and future prospects of young Latino and Black males in the city.
Bloomberg and Soros have pledged $30 million each from their own funds for the program called “The Young Men’s Initiative,” touted as the “nation’s most comprehensive effort to tackle disparities between young black and Latino males and their peers,” according to a news release.
“We believe it is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive attacks on racial disparity … that any city has ever undertaken,” Bloomberg said.
The three year program will reach 315,000 Latinos and blacks, and will focus on four areas deemed to have the greatest disparity—education, health, employment and the justice system.
“The mayor has shown vision and leadership with this initiative, and that’s why I’m happy to join forces with him,” Soros said Thursday. He praised the program, saying it will make New York “stronger and a better place,” and added that it “shows how private citizens can work with their government to make it better.”
A wide range of services will be covered under the initiative, which also includes an overhaul of the Department of Probation. The department currently supervises 30,000 New Yorkers. Latinos and blacks account for 84% of the prison population in the city.
The city also plans to hire paid mentors, offer education and literacy services and establish fatherhood classes. Hiring practices will be reviewed at city agencies to determine if applicants with criminal records are being treated equally.
“When we look at poverty rates, graduation rates, crime rates and employment rates, one thing stands out: 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,” Bloomberg said. “Even though skin color in American no longer determines a child’s fate, sadly, it tells us more about a child’s future than it should.”
The program will begin this fall with the city covering the remainder of the costs.