MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Mount Vernon has accepted the call from the White House this week, officially becoming the second Westchester County municipality to take on President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” challenge.
On Thursday, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas was joined by Schools Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton, members of the City Council, clergy members and other city stakeholders on the steps of City Hall to accept the challenge, which seeks to create opportunities for minority children.
“My Brother’s Keeper is a pledge for all of us to look at one another as brothers and sisters and recommit to try to keep them out of harm’s way. It's very easy for young people in Mount Vernon to become a statistic, " Thomas said. “I was fortunate enough to have loving people and a united community reach out to me at a young age. I want to extend that same hope and helping hand to the young people in our community.”
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.
“I commit my pledge on behalf of the school district,” Hamilton added. “We are committed to combining our resources and I think it is about time that our social services, our religious leaders, our city and our schools come together for the sake of all children.”
Mount Vernon Department of Recreation Commissioner Darren Morton said that it was essential that the city accepted the president’s challenge if the next generation can continue to improve the city.
"Our children just need a promise. They just need for us to believe in them and they need for us to invoke the strategies that we need for them to succeed in a web of intervention,” he said. “The Recreation Department and the Youth Bureau will pool all their resources together and help our children find their place in this world. I commit all of my resources, intellectually and collaboratively with those here in Mount Vernon to ensure that we are our brother's and sister's keeper."
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