About the Initiative

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While much progress has been made since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, educational and economic successes still remain beyond the grasp of many African American males.

In school, young Black men have higher rates of suspension, expulsion, dropout and placement in special education than other groups. In adulthood, African American males are more likely to be unemployed and incarcerated or on probation than men of other racial groups. In fact, African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population but Black males represent nearly half the male prison population.

This is a dilemma that demands a solution. As a child welfare agency that strives to maximize opportunities to promote successful futures for the children we serve, we are convinced of the need to find effective solutions for our at-risk clients who confront the unique challenges of growing up Black, male and poor. That’s why The Children’s Aid Society has created The African American Male Initiative.

In 2005, drawing upon consultation with an interdisciplinary group of experts and key local stakeholders, The Children’s Aid Society launched the African American Male Initiative to more fully understand the issues facing our Black male children, and to develop a combined set of interventions to improve the outcomes for this vulnerable population.

In 2007, Steps to Success, the first programmatic strategy of the Initiative, was launched to serve cohorts of 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders (now 6th, 7th, and 8th graders) in Harlem from their point of entry into the program through high school graduation and into college. Steps to Success has become an incubator of new ideas and strategies for improving the social, emotional, academic, and health outcomes of African American male youth.