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In efforts to increase the representation of Black male teachers in New York City public school classrooms, an initiative has been launched to encourage more men of color to pursue careers in education, according to Black Enterprise.

The three-year initiative—dubbed NYC Men Teach—is a program that was created under New York’s Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) which was implemented by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and carried on by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the news outlet writes. NYC Men Teach helps men of color through the entire certification process, provides them with mentorship and training to transition into the field, and has cultivated a community of Black male teachers who are in the education workforce.

Through the initiative, the city is aiming to recruit 1,000 men from diverse backgrounds. According to the source, nearly 900 men have been placed in schools as educators through the program in the past two years.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery told Black Enterprise that the initiative is imperative because the lack of diversity in the classroom is alarming. According to Buery, boys of color make up 43 percent of New York City’s public school student population, but male teachers of color only account for 8.3 percent of New York City public school educators. He also says that seeing this representation isn’t only important for Black students, but it’s also imperative for White students to see examples of a person of color in leadership.

“It’s about citizenship and leadership. It’s about having people see a vision of the world where people of all races lead and guide. We need our schools to look like the world we’re trying to create.” he said, according to Black Enterprise.

Representation for Black children is a huge factor in their educational success. According to a study released by Johns Hopkins University earlier this year, Black boys from low-income households who had a Black teacher in the 3rd through 5th grade had a higher interest in going to college and a lower drop-out rate.

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