Five New Jersey YMCAs Join Movement to Improve the Lives of Boys and Young Men of Color
By: New Jersey YMCA State Alliance
According to recent statistics, boys and young men of color are twice as likely to grow up in poverty, more likely to live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and more likely to fall into poverty as adults, regardless of background.
"We have a commitment and a responsibility to nurture boys and young men of color and help them realize their full potential," said Darrin Anderson, Sr., PhD, chief executive officer of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance (the Alliance), a coalition of 31 independent YMCA associations across New Jersey.
YMCAs have long supported the healthy development of underserved children and teens. This latest initiative, Anderson said, focuses on specific strategies and activities to help change the trajectory for boys and young men of color served by the YMCA of Montclair, Greater Somerset County YMCA, the Gateway Family YMCA in Elizabeth, the Capital Area YMCA in Trenton and YMCA of Newark.
Buddy Evans, chairman of the Alliance Board of Directors and president and CEO of the YMCA of Montclair, said the overarching goal of the initiative is to "improve academics, social-emotional wellbeing, physical health and long-term financial security for boys and young men of color throughout New Jersey and the country."
The YMCA Boys and Young Men of Color (BYMOC) initiative was started in 2020 at 26 YMCAs in 16 states with a goal of reaching 100 cities across the country, eventually providing service to 10,000 boys and young men of color by 2024. It's now offered at Ys representing 54 cities in 25 states. A large percentage of Ys operate in areas with low social connectedness and a high population of students of color.
The national BYMOC strategy is based on research findings from a study on race and economic opportunity, which showed that neighborhoods where young men of color do well with shared commonalities:
By 2024, the Y has a goal to promote clear pathways to skill building and improve outcomes in several areas: academic achievement, positive identity, personal and professional agency, social-emotional health and wellbeing, career readiness, financial stability, and civic engagement.
Anderson said establishing rigorous partnerships at the national and local levels is essential. "Working with legislative leadership like Senator Cory Booker, who co-sponsored the landmark legislation that established the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys will help to address systems change that is needed," he noted.
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