The New York State Education Department has awarded $10 million in grant funding to 56 organizations across the state taking part in My Brother's Keeper initiatives, which address the need to help some students of color realize their full potential in school.
Among the awardees is the Rochester City School District, which will receive $1.3 million, the largest grant given to any one school district in the state, to create My Brother’s Keeper programs and strategies for K-12 students in the region.
The goal is to enable all students, in particular boys and young men of color, a group which has been underperforming in the classroom, to achieve success.
“To address a problem, you must first understand the full extent of it,” said MaryEllen Elia, education commissioner for the New York State Education Department.
Dr. Kendra March, RCSD’s new deputy superintendent of teaching and learning, said locally, greater attention should be paid to issues of racial equity and fairness.
“Boys of color are not performing well at all,” March said, “The rate of graduation is very low, the percentage of students meeting graduation requirements is also low, and we are disproportionately suspending our young boys of color, as opposed to other subgroups.”
The District will use the funding to support three tasks. First, it will work to improve the overall school climate, which, according to March, has a direct impact on student achievement. RCSD also plans to increase parental involvement and to focus on ensuring students of color graduate on time and are both college and career-ready.
“We want parents to select Rochester City School District schools, so we want to do a better job with engaging them,” March said.
In January, RCSD will begin to hire and train new staff to support the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.