Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new Young Men’s Initiative — which seeks to improve the job and health opportunities for young black and Latino men in New York City – is being called the corner stone of his third term, and something he hopes is replicated across the country.
Bloomberg and fellow billionaire George Soros are each putting in $30 million of their own money to help fund the $130 million, 3-year- program.
It is also coming with about 880 days left in the mayor’s tenure.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” said Councilman Robert Jackson, of Harlem. “I could have done things earlier in my life. You could have done things earlier too,” he said. “I think it’s great.”
Jackson — speaking “as a black male who grew up poor in New York City” — said he thought the new initiative came from a heart-felt place in the mayor, whom he hasn’t always agreed with.
Speaking on his cell phone from the event in Midtown, Jackson said, ”I was sitting right up front and listening to what he said, and looking at him. He’s just not going through the motions. He’s really feeling it and believes it,” said Jackson.
Not impressed with the mayor’s announcement was Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn, who said the funding announced today could have been better used.
“Why didn’t you put it into the summer employment youth slots?” he asked.
“If this was real, and you’re putting out all this money, then why is it during the budget negotiation, we had 36,000 youth employment slots and he took out 10,000 slots.” Barron called today’s $130 million initiative a “band-aid” on a bigger problem.