April 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Dr. Anael Alston
It is our pleasure to introduce Dr. Anael Alston, our new Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Access, Equity, and Community Engagement. The Board of Regents appointed Dr. Alston to the position in February, and he brings extensive knowledge and experience in education leadership to his new role. Prior to coming to the New York State Education Department (NYSED), he was the Superintendent of Schools for Hamilton Central School District.

Dr. Alston is a skilled educational leader with a proven ability to collaborate with stakeholders, build and lead teams, and innovate. He has secured and effectively implemented competitive grants, spearheaded strategic planning processes, and managed complex budgets in diverse environments. He will enable NYSED to continue to grow critical initiatives like My Brother's Keeper that promote educational success for all students, as well as the NYSED's Higher Education Access and Opportunity Programs.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Alston to our team.


Betty A. Rosa
Board of Regents Chancellor

MaryEllen Elia
Hello Everyone,

My name is Anael Alston and I am thrilled to join NYSED as the new Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Access, Equity, and Community Engagement. Part of my job is to provide leadership to the New York State My Brother's Keeper Initiative, and I am excited to take on this role. I am committed to working with you to provide the necessary support so that communities have the opportunities, resources, and experiences that will help them develop the structures to vastly improve the outcomes for boys and young men of color. We believe in the innate potential and inner brilliance of our young people and are committed to success for all.

I am already hard at work getting ready for the second annual  My Brother's Keeper Symposium. NYSED will host the 2018 New York State MBK Symposium on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Albany.

We are pleased to have one of the most sought-after education speakers in the country, Baruti Kafele, as our keynote speaker! We are also extremely fortunate to have Dr. Ronald Ferguson and Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz add significant value and insights to best equip participants to meet the needs of our diverse student body in New York State.

In addition to providing resources and motivating and inspiring participants, we will also induct the inaugural class of the MBK Fellows. 

MBK communities and grant-funded programs won't want to miss this exciting event. If you have not already done so, register today! Spots are limited. Please speak to your MBK Project Director for registration information.

Symposium Guest Speakers Baruti Kafele, Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz, and Dr. Ronald Ferguson
In this edition of "Changing the Narrative," we are spotlighting  more  great MBK programs  across the state.  If your school or community would like to share a story with us, please email photos and news items to  NYSMBK@nysed.gov Similarly, if you are hosting an upcoming event, please let us know. We will add it to our calendar and help you get the word out!

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and tag us in your posts so we can follow you and share your success stories!

Finally, if you know someone who might be interested in our MBK updates, be sure they know how to subscribe to our mailing list. Thank you for helping us spread the word!
spotlightsMy Brother's Keeper Community Network

To join the MBK Community Network, a community formally accepts an invitation from the Board of Regents and makes a commitment to support the national MBK milestones and the six New York State MBK goals. Upon becoming a member of the statewide network, a community gains the support of NYSED's Office of Access, Equity and Community Engagement Services to help build a community initiative and develop a local MBK action plan.
Community Spotlight: White Plains

High school students with community members and MBK officials
Last month, the White Plains MBK Initiative partnered with the Beta Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the White Plains Youth Bureau to honor 208 high school juniors and seniors for academic achievementThe program encourages Black and Latino students to strive for high academic success.

The following schools participated in the program:
  • White Plains High School
  • New Rochelle High School
  • Scarsdale High School
  • Woodlands High School
  • Rye Country Day School
  • Archbishop Stepinac High School

Nolan DeFreitas, a senior at Archbishop Stepinac, received the 2018 Youth of the Year Award for community service, leadership, and academic excellence. Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Benjamin Boykin gave the keynote address. White Plains Mayor Thomas M. Roach and former New York Knicks Basketball Player Allan Houston also greeted the students.

spotlightMy Brother's Keeper Challenge Grant

The purpose of the My Brother's Keeper Challenge Grant is to incentivize and support school districts to develop and execute coherent cradle-to-college strategies aimed at improving the life outcomes for boys and young men of color.
MBK Challenge Spotlight: Buffalo
Students in grades 7-12 addressed their concerns and served as council members in a mock meeting of the Common Council Educational Committee, chaired by  Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo

The Buffalo Public Schools MBK Initiative continues to create high impact opportunities for young men of color through collaborative efforts with the City of Buffalo and Say Yes to Education:
  • The Career and Technical Education Department has been working with the students to prepare them for job internships this summer.
  • A new mentoring initiative will pair caring adults with young men.
  • Seniors from various high schools have taken online college courses in collaboration with Medgar Evers College in New York City and are enrolled in Virtual Advanced Placement courses.
  • High School students participate in the "Our Story Project" after school program in which they learn about and engage African American and Latino history.
  • The Middle School All Male Academy program, where opportunities include participation in leadership development workshops related to social justice and equity for communities of color.
  • Buffalo's Prenatal to Prekindergarten readiness programs provide parents, including teen mothers and fathers, with critical information using the What to Expect book series. The students receive donated books and items needed to care for their children.
Teacher Opportunity Corps (TOC) II

The purpose of TOC II is to increase the rate of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged individuals in teaching careers. TOC II programs incorporate strategies for teacher retention and best practice, such as mentors for new teachers and differentiated instructional techniques.
TOC II Spotlight: Bronxville, NY

Dennis Richmond, Jr.
Sarah Lawrence College is one of four graduate-only TOC II programs. The program provides financial assistance to students, including tuition support, books, and transportation.

Dr. Kathleen Ruen, Director of the Graduate Art of Teaching Program and the TOC II program, says the TOC II program has benefited the graduate program in many ways.  Ruen says,  "the TOC II grant program has enabled the Art of Teaching Program to increase its supports for all of our students. Alongside our TOC II cohort, non-TOC II students have benefited from our year-long Educating for Diversity Course, our Focus/Priority Internship Experiences, our EdTPA coaching sessions, and our Men Who Teach support group. We are attracting more students of color and males from our undergraduate college, and this year enrolled our first African American male student, Dennis Richmond, Jr., a Yonkers resident who is helping spread the word about our Program."

Mr. Richmond, a first year student in the Graduate Elementary Education program, wrote an article that was featured in the Journal News in February highlighting the importance of young African Americans maintaining their ties to black history. Richmond says, "M y ancestor, John Sherman Merritt, passed down the family values I hold today. One hundred years later, I am teaching my students the same family values that were passed down to me."
Family and Community Engagement Program (FCEP)

The purpose of the FCEP is to increase the academic achievement and college and career readiness of boys and young men of color by developing and sustaining effective relationships with families in order to achieve student success.
FCEP Spotlight: Niagara Falls

Students who facilitated a discussion with peers
In collaboration with the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, the Niagara Falls City School District hosted the Male Summit for  7th and 8th grade students from Gaskill Preparatory School and LaSalle Preparatory School.  Students listened to a panel discussion where three successful minority male students from Niagara Falls High School shared their challenges and success stories. Keynote speaker Alfonso Carter also discussed his positive approach to his successful career in music, entrepreneurship, and fashion.
FCEP Spotlight: Monticello

Regent Josephine Finn with students participating in the Dream Tank program
In order to create an environment where respect, trust, and partnerships thrive and to build child-centered roles for the school and community, Monticello Central School District established the Student Black Caucus. The student-run Black Caucus was created with the assistance from Dream Tank, a program created by Regent Josephine Finn, intended to teach high-risk teenagers about responsibility and life choices through creative and entertaining activities. The group is currently composed of a diverse mix of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, academic achievement levels, and life experiences. The mission of the Black Caucus is to advocate for the rights of all students of color.

The Monticello MBK program provides many after-school activities to help students learn academic and life skills. These activities include tutoring and mentoring provided by the SUNY Sullivan Liberty Partnership Program (LPP); access to a recording studio; environmental and nature sessions offered by the Basha Kill Education Center and Blue Wind Nature Center; and a Friday night family event sponsored by EPIC Parent Center.
Learn More

Find out more about New York State's My Brother's Keeper initiative by visiting our MBK website, which provides details about the grants mentioned in this newsletter. The website also includes sharable videos about MBK, featuring young men of color from New York.
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