RCSD Joins "My Brother's Keeper" Initiative

- The Rochester City School District is stepping up to give African American and Latino boys a better chance at success .

The White House is asking Rochester and other large urban school districts to take a pledge.

African American and Latino males make up 43 percent of the Rochester City School District. Now, Rochester and 59 other urban schools districts are joining "My Brother's Keeper."

14-year-old Jumall Little knows what it takes to be a successful student.

"I think it's very important to have a mentor, so you can know what's right and what's wrong and pick good decisions," said Little.

But not all students are on the same page. The Rochester City School District is promising to make sure young men like Jumall make good decisions. It's part of "My Brother's keeper" initiative.

A pledge made to President Obama to improve the lives of young men of color.

"It has been public that we as a system have not done an admirable job in supporting our black and Hispanic males," said Dr. Deasure Matthew, Principal of Wilson Foundation Academy Elementary.

Principal Dr. Deasure Matthew says guidance is key.

"From the very young starting out in education to that awkward age where they are transitioning where you really have to be as cognizant of the social, emotional development as well as the academic development," said Matthew.

"My Brother's Keeper" will find ways to make sure students show up to school.

"Right now, we have a crisis. Basically we have too many of our youngsters going into the criminal justice system rather than going into college," said Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas.

Under the pledge, each school is committed to carrying out 11 specific actions.

"We have to improve the entire system for every child but we also have to pay attention to the specific need of African American and Latino boys," said Vargas.

In Rochester, the conversion to full-day Pre-K and adding more than 70 sports teams in two years are part of the plan.

President Obama says $200 million is up for grabs for the 60 urban schools. The money will come from foundations and businesses to address the specific needs of young men of color.

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