The city Department of Education is <a href="https://nypost.com/2022/08/12/nyc-schools-to-ramp-up-safety-protocols-for-new-school-year/">ramping up safety and support</a> at more than 100 schools where students are most often involved in troubling incidents, suspended or missing class, Mayor Eric Adams and Chancellor David Banks announced Thursday.
Project Pivot is investing $9 million in youth nonprofits focused on school safety, after-school and mental health support. Officials expect to reach up to 10,000 school kids.
“This project will bring community-based organizations into our schools to connect with young people at a pivotal moment in their development through counseling, mentoring, violence intervention,” Adams said outside Tweed Courthouse, the DOE’s headquarters.
“We’re thinking about our children, and the right they have to succeed,” he added. “And in the long run, we will keep them safe and keep their schools safe.”
The schools, mostly in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, were selected based on safety and academic data showing children were disengaged from classes, or more likely to need support.
That data includes discipline and suspensions, but also relied on attendance — like the number of students chronically absent. More than 40% of kids missed one in 10 school days last year, city data show.
“We’ve identified 138 schools, some of the most challenged schools in the city, who are crying out for additional supports, additional resources,” said Banks.
“They have children in their schools who are brilliant,” he added. “They are every bit as talented as everybody, as any other child — they just need the additional supports.”
The nonprofits offer services in safety and violence prevention in and outside school, counselors and mentorship, enrichment programs like sports and the arts, and skills like financial literacy. The programs are backed by research and their effectiveness, officials said.
“We talk often about safety, and many of these organizations are going to provide a deeper level of safety in our schools,” said Banks, who started his education career as a school safety agent.
One of the organizations, Elite Learners Inc., supports traditional school safety staffers with more adults trained in anti-violence near the schools — on a corner, at a local bodega and inside nearby parks.
“So many young people were getting in altercations outside of the building that interfered with their learning in the building,” said Camara Jackson, founder of the Brooklyn-based nonprofit.
“If you don’t feel safe coming to school, how can you sit throughout the day and be successful? So we want to address that,” Jackson said.
The organization stations bright orange and yellow vans — equipped with PlayStations and refrigerators — outside the schools to form relationships with the students.
Other nonprofits range from Save Our Streets, a community-based program to end gun violence, to National Cares Mentoring, a black mentorship program founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The DOE is also recommending groups like Youth Education Through Sports and the Canvas Institute arts and culture center on Staten Island, officials said.
“These are all activities that can serve as a motivating factor for many disengaged students, and can be the proverbial carrot to increase student achievement,” said Aaron Barnette of the DOE’s Office of Safety and Prevention Partnerships.
Project Pivot is funded by COVID aid, which expires in a few school years. The DOE didn’t provide The Post with concrete plans for funding when federal stimulus runs out, though said they would continue to prioritize student safety and well-being.
The new initiative comes as the number of weapons recovered in the public schools soared last year — a trend Banks attributed to safety concerns on the way to and from class, rather than conflict on campus. Roughly 5,000 weapons were recovered in the city schools last year, most of which were defense mechanisms like pepper spray and tasers.
Violence outside the school building has led multiple schools to temporarily lock their front doors, with students free to move between classrooms but not to leave the building.