Michael Jaime had been working with state and county officials for more than a year to get the My Brother’s Keeper program started in the Elmont Union Free School District, until finally, on March 3, Superintendent Kenneth Rosner announced that the school district would be the first in Nassau County to participate in the nationwide program.
The initiative was founded by Pres. Barack Obama in 2014 as an inter-agency effort focused on “closing and eliminating the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color so that all young people have the chance to reach their full potential,” according to the New York State Education Department website. The state became the first in the nation to accept the then-president’s challenge and enact the My Brother’s Keeper program into law with the passage of the 2016 - 17 New York State budget. It is funded by the New York State Office of Access, Equity and Community Engagement.
As part of the program, the two districts will adopt national and state policies, standards and programs that would expand children of color’s opportunities within the district. The students will also work with other students in the program to affect change in the education system, and one fellow from each high school will participate in national and statewide workshops, and teach district officials what they have learned.
“This program will allow students to learn that no individual has a singular story, and that resilience from our experiences will determine outcomes,” Jaime, the president of boh the Elmont and Sewanhaka Boards of Education, adding, “Being the first elementary in Nassau County will mean that our youngest scholars will benefit from the MBK program at an early age and learn the strategies to successfully navigate school and beyond.”
The students will be exposed to various career paths under the program — which stresses building partnerships with local governments, colleges, universities and private businesses — he explained, but in order to do that, the district had to write a letter of intent to the State Education commissioner and get County Executive Laura Curran’s letter of endorsement.
“Due to Covid-19 and the fact that we are the first Nassau school districts to attempt this,” Jaime said, it “took longer to complete.
But now, after all that, district officials announced that the program will begin in the Elmont and Sewanhaka school districts next fall, with a kickoff meeting next month.