This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Mayor Nutter today presented the steps the city is taking to unstack the deck for young men of color by expanding educational opportunities.
A new report, released by the Mayor’s Office, lays out how the city of Philadelphia plans to take on the challenge set forth by My Brother’s Keeper, a national campaign launched by the White House last fall and focused on breaking down barriers for Black and Hispanic youth.
The mayor announced that the city will give an additional $1 million to the READ! by 4th campaign to promote early literacy and $3 million to the Philadelphia Youth Network to add more high-quality, paid summer jobs. The Community College of Philadelphia will also get $3 million to help eliminate tuition increases for next school year.
“How do we provide a generation of boys and young men with the opportunity and ability to succeed?” said Nutter, who is a co-chair of the national campaign’s task force. “In Philadelphia, we have highlighted our programs, initiatives, and policies that promote improved outcomes for boys and young men of color. This report is Philadelphia’s framework on how to drive this conversation and this work forward.”
In Philadelphia, where the child poverty rate is 36 percent, most of the young poor are Black and Hispanic. These students lag behind their peers in outcomes of health, general well-being, and education, according to the report.
Two-thirds of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds don’t have access to quality pre-K, the report said. While 62 percent of Asian and 61 percent of White 3rd graders are deemed proficient or advanced in reading, only 33 percent of Black and 34 percent of Hispanic youth could read at or above grade level.
When President Obama announced last February the launch of the now $300 million, five-year program, six "milestones" were set as targets to help close the gaps between male Black and Hispanic students and their peers, including expanding access to quality pre-K and ensuring that all children read at grade level by 3rd grade and graduate high school.
The city signed on to the initiative in September, and this report outlines the goals, steps, and task force recommendations to achieve each of the six priority areas. The website for My Brother’s Keeper in Philadelphia lists current programs and policies that support each of the milestones.