Mike Bloomberg is a tricky mayor to pin down. Yup, there is lots of reprehensible stuff (*cough* third term *cough*), but there is also some genuinely nice stuff. Today's good deed is a new, far-reaching, $125 million dollar program that aims to change how the city interacts with black and Hispanic youth (and how they interact with it). And how is the city going to pay for such a new program in troubled economic times? One Boston billionaire named Michael Bloomberg has already pledged to put up $30 million of the cost and hedge fund manager George Soros has pledged to match it, giving the city twice the bang for its $67.5 million buck.
"We believe it is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive attacks on racial and ethnic disparities among young men that any city has ever taken," Bloomberg said of the program, the Young Men's Initiative, earlier today. "When we look at poverty rates, graduation rates, one thing stands out: blacks and Latinos are not fully sharing in the promise of American freedom and far too many are trapped in circumstances that are difficult to escape." The new program hopes to change all that.
Among the many issues the initiative will be trying to reform is the city's probation system, which Bloomberg says "will transform itself into an agency designed to hold people accountable while connecting them to employment and educational opportunities." The program will also work to bring reforms to the city's education and mentoring programs—specifically trying to encourage fathers to be more involved and bring new mentors to troubled teens. The program is quite large in scope, but looks genuinely interesting.
Meanwhile, this isn't even Bloomberg's only big philanthropic gift to the city this week. Earlier this week he revealed that he and five other (anonymous) donors were putting up the $1.5 million needed for the city to offer January regents exams, which allow eligible students to graduate mid-year rather than wait until the summer. Almost makes you forget about that whole Goldsmith thing, eh?