May 2018
Dear MBK Community,

I want to give a heartfelt thank you to every one of the over 600 people that attended our New York State MBK Symposium on April 27th and 28th. This was indeed a highlight of my year professionally and I took personal satisfaction looking at the intensity and energy created by our eager attendees and passionate presenters. Below are direct quotes from attendees who filled out the evaluation form. 

"The testimonials were outstanding. This initiative is much greater in its potential than I could have ever imagined. If used correctly, it could transform my community and pull in surrounding communities who face the same challenges."

"This Symposium armed me with necessary tools I need to 1) begin the work MBK requires us to do; 2) turnkey the necessary MBK components in my District so that all stakeholders are involved; and 3) enhance the work that we have been doing through a different lens."

On behalf of all the adults, young people, and the team at the New York State Education Department, thank you for your continued efforts to ensure that all young people reach their full potential.


Dr. Anael Alston
Assistant Commissioner
Office of Access, Equity and Community Engagement Services
New York State My Brother's Keeper Symposium Highlights
The New York State Education Department hosted the 2018 New York State My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Symposium on April 27-28 in Albany. More than 600 students, parents, educational leaders, and citizens came together to discuss successful strategies, share resources, receive expert training, and hear directly from students about the impact that MBK has had on their lives. The event also included national experts in the field of human and child development who focused on how to ensure boys and young men of color are given opportunities to succeed in school and life. 
Keep reading to see highlights from the Symposium!
In this video, My Brother's Keeper students, school administrators, Chancellor Rosa, Vice Chancellor Brown, Regent Young, and Commissioner Elia talk about the positive impact of the New York State MBK initiative. Watch the video here.

Members of the Board of Regents with NYS Assembly Speaker Heastie and the inaugural class of My Brother's Keeper Fellows
The State Education Department named the inaugural class of My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Fellows Program. The MBK Fellows will be provided with authentic leadership opportunities in government, education, and business, as well as virtual training on leadership.

The 36 Fellows represent 18 New York State school districts who attended the Second Annual NYS MBK Statewide Symposium held in Albany with their mentors.

The Fellows will be a part of a statewide MBK Fellows Workgroup, which will give them the chance to offer input on the creation and implementation of a statewide MBK Mentoring Network.

Members of the Board of Regents
Many members of the Board of Regents attended the Symposium, including Chancellor Rosa, Vice Chancellor Brown, Regent Johnson, Regent Mead, Regent Ouderkirk, Regent Reyes, and Regent Young. Members of the Board of Regents congratulated the first class of MBK Fellows and r eaffirmed the Board's commitment to the MBK movement's continued growth and to achieving equity in education.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie 
made the Fellows program possible by championing MBK and working with the Legislature and the Executive to secure funding to support boys and young men of color. We were so honored to have Speaker Heastie attend the Symposium and deliver remarks. In his speech, he said, "The true test of someone's character is when you do something for people you will never know." We thank Speaker Heastie and his colleagues for their continued support of MBK.
Additional Highlights

ImageThink's  graphic recorders were on hand to capture the powerful graphic recordings that provide a clear visual representation of the powerful speeches, informative information, and rich discussion taking place at the Symposium. Click on the graphic recordings below to view larger versions.

We were pleased to have one of the most sought-after education speakers in the country,
Baruti Kafele, as our keynote speaker!

We were extremely fortunate to have Dr. Ronald Ferguson add significant value and insights to best equip participants to meet the needs of our students.
Chancellor Rosa
Regent Young

Board of Regents Chancellor Rosa and Regent Young spoke at the MBK Symposium.
Commissioner Elia
Assistant Commissioner Alston

Commissioner Elia and Assistant Commissioner Alston spoke at the MBK Symposium.

Dr. Alfonso Wyatt  moderated our panel of students who explained how MBK has  impacted their lives .

Senegal Mabry, a junior at  Binghamton University  who serves on the National Advisory Council of the national  My Brother's Keeper Alliance , moderated a panel of college students and recent graduates who shared strategies for overcoming challenges and staying on course for graduation.

NYS MBK students attended a "Spoken Roots" session that used poetry, singing, dancing, comedy, and other art forms to encourage teaching as a career choice.

Dr. Alfonso Wyatt led  a workshop to help create personal transformative self-investment strategies for MBK  youth.

Presenters from Schenectady City School District provided an overview of the work being done to implement a Trauma Sensitive Schools Model (TSS).

A panel of representatives from MBK communities gave examples of the MBK initiative's positive impact.

Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz led a workshop on building a culturally relevant classroom and the potential impact on students.

Panelists described how their communities are implementing The Basics and how the program is leading to improved educational outcomes for boys and young men of color.
Principal Baruti Kafele provided educators with specific strategies for effectively empowering their young men of color to strive for academic excellence.
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: MBK Workshops
MBK students learning and gathering information about Opportunity Programs

The Beyond Access Fair was one of many engaging and exciting learning opportunities for MBK students attending the Symposium. The fair gave students the opportunity to speak with representatives from colleges, universities, state agencies and other educational entities about preparing for and accessing college. TOC II was one of the eight featured programs. 

Ten TOC II member institutions participated in the fair. The representatives provided materials about TOC II and the college they represented and answered questions about options in teaching. High school and college students,  parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders stopped at the TOC II tables to speak with representatives. One of the visitors was Vice Chancellor Brown, who perused the materials and paused to share humorous stories about his own journey to college.
TOC II Spotlight: Presentations

At the Symposium, TOC II programs presented strategies that are working at their institutions.  Dr. Fran Spielhagen from Mount Saint Mary College gave a presentation about recruitment and retention strategies, and Harley Ramirez, a TOC II student at the college, served as co-presenter for one of the sessions. Harley shared that the constant follow-up and outreach from his high school teacher and later from faculty at his college helped motivated him to choose teaching as a career.
TOC II teacher candidate, Harley Ramirez with Professor Fran Speilhagen, TOC II director
Harley Ramirez speaking with Regent Young
Other TOC II presenters included:
  • Kai Strange from Nazareth College, who shared highlights of the college's TOC II mentoring model that includes faculty, current Rochester City School teachers, and TOC II staff and students; and
  • Patricia Virella from Sarah Lawrence College, who focused on curriculum and instruction and shared how she and her co-teacher use the TOC II Equity and Diversity Seminar to engage all teacher candidates in honest dialogues about racism and gender issues, and particularly how bias can impact the students in their classrooms.
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: Roosevelt

Roosevelt Union Free School District's MBK Family and Community Engagement Program: Parent Leadership Academy
Dr. Nichelle L. Rivers, Director of Grants, and Mr. James Thomas, Project Director at Roosevelt UFSD

At the Symposium, Roosevelt UFSD presented information about its Parent Leadership Academy. The focus of the program is to provide leadership development to encourage family engagement and partnership with parents and the community. It provides a two-way learning environment for the school district and the families to gain knowledge and support one another. The program  has provided an opportunity for an open dialogue between diverse individuals on key district topics, a network of neighborhood ambassadors, and an environment that fosters relationships between the district and families.

Parent Leadership session topics have included:
  • Empowerment
  • Advocacy
  • FCE Plan
  • Importance of Literacy
  • Restorative Justice
  • Culturally Relevant Practices
FCEP Spotlight: Lawrence

Lawrence Union Free School District S.I.L.O.S. Suspend Suspensions!

William King Moss III, Director of Academic Affairs at Lawrence UFSD
At the Symposium, Lawrence UFSD presented information about its program, S.I.L.O.S. Suspend Suspensions!   The goal of the S.I.L.O.S program is to reduce the number of student suspensions. Seminars are provided as an option to parents and guardians whose children would otherwise be suspended. The S.I.L.O.S. run each week during after school hours and cover areas for behavior improvements. Some examples of seminars include conflict resolution and thoughtful behavior, good attendance and preparation, and respect for personhood and property. During the seminars, teachers facilitate restorative discussions on positive student behaviors. The district has seen an increase in student attendance, an increase in credits earned by high school students, and a dramatic decrease in the suspensions of boys of color as a result of the S.I.L.O.S. initiative.
FCEP Spotlight: Buffalo

Buffalo Public Schools MBK and Community Schools Synergy: Increasing Family and Community Engagement
Eric Jay Rosser, Ph.D. Associate Superintendent for Student Support Services and  David Mauricio, Ed.D., Chief of Strategic Alignment & Innovation at Buffalo Public Schools

Strong community schools serve as an epicenter to assist students in realizing their greatest potential. Buffalo seeks to increase student achievement, parent engagement, and build healthier communities through a variety of programs, such as academic and instructional technology, after-school and Saturday programs, parent centers, adult education, and community partnerships. Community schools use a "whole child" model to increase student outcomes and improve the surrounding community.

In addition, parent academies provide parents and families with education, resources, and support to help ensure that children achieve success in school and beyond. Some topics include:
  • Parent Center Academy learning session registration
  • Academic curricular and parent resources
  • Legal advice provided through legal clinics
  • Health insurance provider enrollment
  • Desktop and touch-screen laptop computer access and printing services
  • Voters Registration
  • Job search information and assistance
  • Clothing and food
  • Toy giveaways
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.
Join the Conversation

If your school or community would like to share a story to include in a future edition of this newsletter, please email photos and news items to 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!

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