New Rochelle Releases My Brother’s Keeper Challenge

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — A consortium of New Rochelle government agencies and civic groups released today a 24-page Action Plan Report at an event held at the Whitney M. Young Auditorium at New Rochelle High School.

MBKNewRo Action Plan (.pdf)

On April 29, 2015, New Rochelle officially accepted President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge as a partnership between the City of New Rochelle, the City School District of New Rochelle and Community Partners. As of today, 120 Community Stakeholders have signed on to help the community reach its MBK goals.  The MBK cradle-to-career initiative aims to assist all children and young adults in New Rochelle live productive lives, particularly Black and Hispanic or Latino male children and young men.

The Action Plan Report outlines the many goals, action steps and performance measures our community has devised for each of the 6 Milestones outlined in President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge.

The MBK Steering Committee and Working Group outlined a total of 27 goals, 33 Action Steps and 20 Performance Measures to address the 6 Milestones, or roughly 5 to 6 Action Steps per Milestone.

Milestone 1: Children will enter school ready to learn

MBKNewRo Actions:

  • The City School District will customize an early child curriculum that daycare providers can use with their young learners.
  • MBK will implement a “Barbershop Reading Program,” bringing books to barbershops, pediatrician’s offices, banks and anywhere a parent and child are waiting on line together.
  • MBK will promote the   “Born Learning” program for New Rochelle currently in formulation through a partnership between  the  United Way of Westchester and Putnam and New Rochelle’s Parks and Recreation Department
  • Through the City’s Redevelopment Plan, the oversight company will look for ways to add locations that can accommodate physical activities for children and parent/child learning opportunities.

Milestone 2: Reading at grade level by 3rd grade 

MBKNewRo Actions:

  • Establish a Reading Buddies program between NR High School and an elementary school.
  • Sponsor “book giveaways” throughout New Rochelle.
  • Identify MBK students who need help with reading; retain reading specialists at elementary level to work with these children.
  • Work with parents to enable them to assist their young children with homework and reading assignments. 

Milestone 3: All students graduate from high school  

MBKNewRo Actions:

  • Create personalized tutoring programs for MBK students and formally train new mentors.
  • Establish an MBK Ambassadors Club at the high school with members meeting weekly with mentors to navigate high school challenges and the college application process. 
  • Expand SAT prep programs with The New Rochelle Fund for Excellence and Let’s Get Ready and engage other supportive partners. 
  • Expand existing Leadership programs and conferences geared to Black and Hispanic or Latino males and engage new partners to create additional programs.

Milestone 4: All young people complete college, post-secondary education or vocational training

MBKNewRo Actions: 

  • The Youth Bureau, The Guidance Center of Westchester and the City School District will establish a community-based “One-Stop Career Center” to implement dropout prevention strategies and offer vocational training programs.
  • Identify more scholarships for full-time enrollment in college for Black and Hispanic or Latino males. 
  • Partner with New Rochelle’s three colleges – Iona, Monroe and the College of New Rochelle along with Westchester Community College — to institute “high school to college” transition and retention programs so students enter college and earn their degrees. 
  • Work with students to create individualized plans to attend college or another post-secondary school or receive vocational training in high-demand occupations. 

Milestone 5: All youth out of school are employed

MBKNewRo Actions:

  • The One-Stop Career Center created by the Youth Bureau, The Guidance Center of Westchester and the City School District will provide vocational training in high-demand careers.
  • Design a job training program to align with the 10,000 new jobs that will become available through the City’s downtown development plan. Encourage college students to take Civil Service exams for City jobs with the Police, Fire, Parks & Recreation and Public Works departments.
  • Create a job mentoring and job shadowing initiative and partner with local colleges, private employers, City departments and organizations to sponsor two Job Fairs a year.  
  • Reduce barriers to employment by supporting effort to “Ban the Box” on employment forms and promote wise Social Media usage among teens and young adults.  

Milestone 6: Ensure that all youth remain safe from violent crime and are given second chances in life

MBKNewRo Actions:

  • List extracurricular activities and “Safe Spaces” on the MBK New Rochelle website. Add new “Safe Spaces” and ensure accessibility to positive activities by providing financial assistance and transportation services to those in need.
  • Work with law enforcement officials and New Rochelle court system stakeholders to foster better community relationships and encourage personnel to when possible provide “second chances” to teens and young adults. 
  • Through the One-Stop Career Center, provide resources for the formerly incarcerated young people returning to New Rochelle and assist them meet their housing, educational and vocational needs. 
  • Encourage MBK partners to support gun-safety legislation and lobby for the passage of a “Raise the Age” law that would increase the age of criminality in New York to 18 years of age. 

Key MBK Timeline Dates:

September 2014: President Obama issued the MBK Challenge to cities and towns across the country.

January 29, 2015:  New Rochelle held its first meeting with stakeholders to gauge their interest in accepting the President’s Challenge. 

April 29, 2015: New Rochelle officially accepted the Presidents My Brother’s Keeper Challenge. New Rochelle is the first and only location in Westchester to accept the MBK Challenge.

June 11, 2015: New Rochelle held its Local Action Summit, with 300 people in attendance. Working groups established, ideas accumulated on what steps the City needed to take to address the 6 Milestones outlined in the MBK Challenge.

October 26, 2015: MBKNewRo announces and presents its Plan of Action, launches its website and promotes its social media platforms. More than 500 people attend. 

Mission: To create in New Rochelle a supportive environment wherein the entire community has accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge and is proactive in supporting this initiative. We want our residents to join us in helping all our youth, particularly Black and Hispanic or Latino boys and young men, succeed, and enjoy productive, rewarding lives. We want all our young people to enter school ready to learn; read at grade level or better by third grade; graduate from high school in a timely manner ready for college and/or career; complete college or other post-secondary education or vocational training; successfully enter the workforce anywhere they desire including in this community; and are able to live their lives here or elsewhere safe from violence and benefitting from second chances when necessary.

Vision: A New Rochelle community in which every institution, household and business accepts a shared responsibility to lift up our young people, particularly Black and Hispanic or Latino boys and young men, and in which every young person is supported and encouraged to achieve positive goals and contribute to the common good.

For more information visit the MBKNewRo website at or on social media Twitter (@MBKNewRo), Facebook (/My Brother’s Keeper New Rochelle), Instagram (mbknewro)