DEPUTY Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Ronald E. Richter, Department of Probation Commissioner Vincent N. Schiraldi, Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt and I recently visited one of the five new sites serving youth in “Close to Home,” a signature component of the Young Men’s Initiative and a sweeping reform of the juvenile system that transfers responsibility for the majority of New York City juvenile offenders to the city, so that the young people can be rehabilitated, educated, supervised and, when necessary, confined near their families and in their communities.

Previously, youthful offenders were detained under a failed justice system that sent them upstate without family or community support, resulting in an 81 percent recidivism rate and a future of rotating in and out of jail.

Under Close to Home, these youth receive individualized educational services, and unlike the upstate model, all their academic credits will for the first time count towards their high school graduation.

I also released the Young Men’s Initiative first annual report, which details the progress of the initiative, including the adoption and implementation of Close to Home legislation; the selection of schools to participate in the Expanded Success Initiative; the launch of the nation’s first social impact bond; and a city-wide effort to lift the barriers to employment by eliminating questions about criminal record on initial employment application forms and connect young men with identification.

We created the Young Men’s Initiative because we were committed to finding new ways for young black and Latino men to succeed in their lives — and we’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made just a year later.

From implementing an aggressive agenda designed to effectively intervene at the most critical moments to bringing black and Latino young men together with adult mentors, we are making a difference in young people’s lives.

We will continue to take aggressive steps to ensure that all New Yorkers are able to fully participate in the promise our city holds.

Launched in August 2011, the Young Men’s Initiative is the nation’s most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men, and the culmination of 18 months of research on the causes of those disparities and their potential remedies.

Through broad policy changes and agency reforms, a public-private partnership is investing $43 million annually in programs that connect young men to education, employment, and mentoring opportunities; improve their health; and reduce their involvement with the criminal justice system.

Over the past year, the Young Men’s Initiative has launched new programs, expanded existing services, and championed policy changes designed to help young black and Latino men achieve life outcomes on par with their peers.

With the support of an Advisory Board representing a cross-section of the most experienced leaders from the non-profit, public, philanthropic and private sectors, the initiative focuses on employment, health, justice and education and includes an implementation and evaluation structure that focuses on outcomes and accountability, including monthly management meetings with the mayor.

To view the annual report, go to

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