Homicides, mass shootings, hate crimes, and other serious crimes are escalating in urban centers across the nation. In metropolitan areas such as New York City, the “stop-and-frisk” and “broken windows” approaches to law enforcement have negatively impacted minority youth, leaving them with potentially life-altering consequences (e.g., arrest and criminal records) for relatively minor infractions. The Bridge MCP works with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and other relevant policy-makers in the joint exploration of effective policing strategies and educational programs that will keep all citizens out of harm’s way while still respecting and maintaining their civil rights.
Education, at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels, is the gateway to a better quality-of-life for the marginalized and under-represented in society. However, our children are not being properly positioned for success in college and the workplace. For example, in the Bridge MCP’s “backyard” of New York City, many children are poorly educated. According to a recent article, only 28% of the city’s third-through-eighth grade students passed the state’s reading tests this year. Student performance in math was similarly troubling, with only 33% of the city’s grade 3 through 8 pupils passing state exams. These numbers require prompt, radical improvement if our children are to meet the nation’s college entrance and career readiness goals. To that end, the Bridge MCP looks forward to working with the city’s public and private schools to ensure that all children are able to achieve and succeed academically.
Across the nation, children born with developmental disabilities have demonstrated a need for greater support. The Bridge MCP advocates for the creation of stronger, more comprehensive relationships with local school districts and mental health agencies to ensure of all children who are developmentally delayed receive the best possible educational services. These interventions must be delivered in the least restricted environments and in a timely fashion.
The plight of the nation’s indigent and destitute has reached the crisis level. Urban areas across the country tell a “tale of two cities” with residents of either extreme poverty or an abundance of means. The middle class, which has been on the verge of extinction for years, is dwindling at a rapid pace. Areas such as New York City find gentrification taking hold at a prodigious rate, resulting in entire communities being displaced. Luxury high-rises and expensive condominiums dominate the landscape, over-shadowing low-income housing developments. The lack of affordable housing is a recurring problem throughout the nation’s urban centers and solutions have not yet been found. To support the healthy development of families and the need for affordable housing, the Bridge MCP works with public entities, elected officials and private developers to ensure the creation of affordable housing stock.
Simply put, never before has the line of demarcation separating the “haves” from the “have nots” been so stark and undeniably clear and troubling. Hunger and homelessness have also reached unprecedented levels across the nation. Areas such as the South Bronx have expansive “food deserts” where scores of families go to bed hungry almost every night. The NYC Department of Education, the nation’s largest public school district, is serving a higher percentage of homeless children and youth than ever before. If these trends are to be reversed, the nation’s poor require greater access to job training, re-training, adult basic education, ESL and entrepreneurship programs capable of elevating the neediest out of poverty and illiteracy and into lives of self-sufficiency.