MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Led by guest speaker Wyclef Jean, 100 students in Mount Vernon got a glimpse into the future with some of the city’s dignitaries at School Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton’s “Summit on My Brother’s Keeper.”
Last year, Mount Vernon became the second Westchester County municipality - behind its neighbors in New Rochelle - to accept former President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” challenge, which is designed to increase and improve opportunities for youth, specifically minorities, in cities throughout the country.
Under the challenge, all children will be emotionally, socially and physically prepared to attend classes, with all children literate by the third grade. Other specific goals include ensuring that every youth graduates high school, completes post-secondary education and come out prepared for gainful employment.
On Tuesday, students from the district’s three high schools gathered for a meal and conversation with a dozen adult mentors from the community, in an effort to “lead to important self-reflection and to help strengthen the students’ connections to the mentors,” one of Hamilton’s stated goals of the evening.
“I’m hopeful the students will leave here inspired and having made connections with other men in the community who are interested in serving as mentors,” Hamilton said. “We’re helping our young men realize that there’s a support system in place that they can access by reaching out to the people who have been invited here as co-facilitators.”
The guest speaker at Hamilton’s Superintendent Summit music mogul Wyclef Jean, shared stories reflecting on how he has “risen above discrimination in his life to become, not just a star, but an example to others.”
“This is the knowledge that my father gave me: I can’t fail,” he said. “I’ve got to make it for my ‘hood, so I can help more people.”