Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday he will invest his own money in a new, $130 million city initiative to help black and Latino men get ahead. The Bloomberg Administration calls it the nation's boldest and most comprehensive effort to reduce racial disparities.
“When we look at poverty rates, graduation rates, crime rates, employment rates -- one thing stands out,” Bloomberg said. “Blacks and Latinos are not fully sharing in the promise of American freedom.”
The initiative will target the city’s 315,000 black and Latino men between the ages of 16 and 24, aiming to increase graduation and employment rates and keep young blacks and Latinos out of prison. The project will involve dozens of city agencies in providing programs like job placement and fatherhood classes.
“I believe that as long as you have served your time and stayed clean and the crime you committed isn't related to the job you’re seeking or a threat to public safety, you deserve a second chance just like everyone else,” Bloomberg said.
Mayor Bloomberg will give $30 million and has asked billionaire George Soros to match his gift. The city will fund the remaining $67.5 million. Some philanthropy experts have called the mix of taxpayer funds with a politician’s private money slightly “awkward,” but expert and NYU Professor of Philanthropy Claire Gaudiani said the project would be problematic only if Bloomberg were expecting something back.
“He can't even run again so it's not that he can be playing votes or you know, influencing votes. This is a person who has unique perspective on the needs of different communities. And as a citizen with nothing to gain, he's making a gift.”