Date: January 12, 2015
For Immediate Release

MAYOR KATHY SHEEHAN LAUNCHES ALBANY’S “MY BROTHER’S AND SISTER’S KEEPER” INITIATIVE

A Wide Coalition of Stakeholders Join the Mayor in the Launch of City of Albany Program to Get Children and Young Adults of Color the Educational and Job Opportunities They Need

ALBANY, NY – Today, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, ’94 and other stakeholders launched the City of Albany’s “My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper” (MBSK) at City Hall, an initiative that will focus on improving opportunities of young men and women of color in Albany and reducing the levels of violence that far too many of them experience.

In February 2014, President Obama announced the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, a program the President said was designed to “help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead,” and he invited communities across the country “to give more young Americans the support they need to make good choices, and to be resilient, to overcome obstacles, and achieve their dreams.” Like many other communities that have accepted the MBK challenge, Albany’s initiative includes girls and young women of color as well. It is being funded by Community Development Block Grant funds as well as the Department of Youth and Workforce Services and will be overseen by Pedro Perez, the Executive Director of Albany’s My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper

“As a co-convener of the Albany Promise, I know we are making great strides to achieve better outcomes for the children of Albany,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “And now we are expanding our commitment to collective impact by accepting the MBK challenge with a focus on ‘opportunity youth’ – teens and young adults who have dropped out of school and who are not employed. Our program also will include girls and young women of color, recognizing that we need to work together to improve their long-term prospects as well.”

“Strong and successful communities look forward, past the current generation, to set themselves up for the future,” said Congressman Paul D. Tonko. “That is exactly what Mayor Sheehan and community leaders will achieve by launching My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper, ensuring Capital Region youth have the means and motivation to make their dreams a reality through civic and career education. I thank the Mayor’s team for their responsible approach, coordinating efforts across the City to multiply success.”

“The education of black and brown youth is the linchpin to the continued leadership of the United States in this global economy,” said City School District of Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Ph.D.. “In the City School District of Albany, our black and brown boys are three times more likely to be part of the discipline system, which results in time away from school. Black and brown girls are two times more likely to be part of the discipline system. The My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper initiative with the City of Albany is a powerful partnership that will address this historical injustice.”

“This is an opportunity for our city to work together with local partners inside and outside of government to specifically improve the performance and production of our city’s disconnected youth,” said Jonathan Jones, Commissioner of Recreation, Youth & Workforce Services. “MBSK is not a new program, but a coordinating initiative to work more efficiently to connect existing program partners, break down access barriers, and engage young men and women along a path to success.”

“Albany’s My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper is leading the nation in recognizing that girls and young women of color who are growing up in the same economically challenged families and neighborhoods as our boys and young men are also in need of focused supports to help them succeed,” said Barbara Smith, who coordinates the City’s Equity Agenda. “We are excited about MBSK’s commitment to building opportunity for all of Albany’s young people.”

“The Albany Police Department is humbled and proud to be a partner in President Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper Challenge’ in the City of Albany,” said Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox. “We are dedicated to reconnecting our teens and young adults to their communities through the Cadet and PAL Explorer Programs as well as keeping youth out of the juvenile and criminal justice systems through innovative programs such as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion or LEAD Program. In these ways, the Police Department will continue to be a positive driving force in the lives of our youth and young adults.”

“MBSK will work with all those committed to social justice and equity,” said Pedro Perez, Executive Director of Albany’s My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. “We must all join together to redirect the ‘incarceration pipeline’ of young men and women of color toward educational, economic, and entrepreneurial success. If Albany and America is to remain globally competitive, we must prepare this and future generations. It is simply the right thing to do for our children and our future.”

MBSK compliments The Albany Promise, which currently includes action teams focused on early childhood education, third and fourth grade English language and Math proficiency, and high school success. MBSK will focus on “opportunity youth” which generally includes young people who have dropped out of school or are unemployed or under-employed. The goal: improving access to education and employment and reducing levels of violence among young people.

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Chartered in 1686, the City of Albany is the oldest continuously chartered city in the United States, and has been the State Capital since 1797. Although the City is the seat of State Government and a thriving center of education, culture and commerce, its real spirit lies in its diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. In January 2014 Kathy M. Sheehan became the City’s 75th Mayor.