Bill de Blasio Says He’ll Build Upon Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative

Mayor Bill de Blasio with his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. (Photo: Getty)
Mayor Bill de Blasio with his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. (Photo: Getty)

Mayor Bill de Blasio asserted today he would build on Michael Bloomberg’s far-reaching and personally-financed initiative to help young minority men, but said he had no immediate plans to ask his billionaire predecessor for another check. 

The nearly $130 million program, known as the Young Men’s Initiative, was created in 2011 and aimed to help underprivileged black and Latino men land jobs and avoid prison. Mr. Bloomberg himself covered about a quarter of the cost with his own cash;  George Soros, a de Blasio ally and chair of the Open Society Foundations, also pitched in $30 million.

“I think there’s a lot of organizations in this town, companies, individuals who want to further this mission on every level,” Mr. de Blasio said today at a press conference in the Bronx, when Politicker asked how the initiative would be financed. “I think we’ll have ample partners in this endeavor–it’s a different model.”

Still, Mr. de Blasio acknowledged things have changed.

“Let me offer a clarification for everyone here: Michael Bloomberg as a mayor was not typical. Most of our mayors did not have $25 billion dollars,” he continued. “So the typical mayor or governor anywhere in the country is someone who doesn’t necessarily have a lot of money and has to build support for their initiatives from a lot of different sources and there’s plenty of models … where you put together an idea and you develop support for it.”

Mr. de Blasio said that his wife, Chirlane McCray–the new chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City–would help with the fund-raising efforts for Mr. Bloomberg’s initiative.

While he has sparred with Mr. Bloomberg in the past, Mr. de Blasio said he would have no problem accepting money from the billionaire to help fund the program–but had no immediate plans to reach out.

“If he reaches out to me at any point, we’ll be open to having that conversation. If I see something that I think is a particularly good way to work together, I’ll reach out to him and I think there will be a very productive, professional spirit to those conversations,” he said. “But … there is no immediate plan or specific plan for that.”

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