NYC unveils 'Economic Justice Plan' ahead of Juneteenth celebration

HARLEM, New York City (WABC) -- New York City's Juneteenth weekend starts Friday night with a celebration in St. Nicholas Park in Harlem, but on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a new economic plan called the "Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan."

"Something very big happening this week, something we are all looking forward to, a New York City full celebration of Juneteenth," he said. "Here is a moment to really reflect on history and act on history. It is a day specifically celebrating the emancipation of Black slaves in this country. But it really needs to be so much more. It needs to be a day for fundamental change."

The plan has three core components.

First, there will be Universal New York City Scholarship accounts for every public school child starting in September.

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Second, a CUNY Scholarship Fund will provide 2,800 four-year scholarships to Black and low-income students.

Third, the Brooklyn Recovery Corps at Medgar Evers Collage will give over 200 students paid internships, work experience, and career prep.

"We want to honor Juneteenth today with action, with a focus on structural change," de Blasio said. "The focus of this plan is building on generational wealth. Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan is about addressing the core issues that have particularly come up in the last year and needed to come up, specific actions we could take right now to make an impact."

Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. Annually celebrated on June 19, the holiday serves as an homage to the actual ending of slavery in 1865.

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While it's widely believed that Black enslaved people were set free by the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, not all were free until nearly three years later.

"We know that Juneteenth is the perfect time to make an impact, because it reminds us at that moment in the 1860s, the laws changed but the reality did not change," de Blasio said. "Racial wealth gap has continued from that moment, in fact has grown. Right now in America, average wealth of a white family is 10 times the average Black family. The answer is redistribution, purposeful focused efforts to right the wrongs. That's what we are doing with the Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan."

For a list of Juneteenth events across the city, visit NYC.gov/Juneteenth.

More on the NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan:

Universal NYC Baby Bonds: Expand NYC Kids Rise to every public school child
New York City will directly confront the racial generational racial wealth gap by expanding savings plans to every single public school kindergarten student next school year. This initiative will both open accounts and put a minimum of $100 into every account.

In 2016, Mayor de Blasio launched a baby bonds 529 college savings pilot in Queens School District 30 in partnership with the non-profit, NYC Kids Rise (NYCKR). Children in this district now have over $6 million to go toward their college and career training.

Building on success of the pilot, the Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan expands NYCKR through public-private partnerships to all school districts, providing universal 529 savings accounts to every public-school child, starting in Kindergarten this upcoming school year. The City will invest $15 million annually through 2025. Every public dollar is estimated to leverage 20-25 times in philanthropy, family savings, community scholarships, and investment returns by the time a child graduates from high school.

CUNY Scholarship Fund: Over 2,800 four-year CUNY scholarships for Black and low-income students
New York City will promote the education and career success of Black and low-income students by providing over 2,800 four-year CUNY ACE model scholarships valued at $4,000 per year. This $45 million investment will help cover gaps in financial aid, books, transportation, and advising for eligible students.

The program will serve 1,000 students at Medgar Evers College and 1,800 low-income students in the Taskforce neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID, NYCHA housing developments, and other low-income zip codes.

The Brooklyn Recovery Corps at Medgar Evers College: Paid internships, work experience and career prep for over 200 students a year
Medgar Evers College will launch the Brooklyn Recovery Corps to provide over 200 students annually with the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing economic recovery of Brooklyn, focusing on experiences that integrate science, business, public health, or the green economy.

The $900,000 annual investments ($4.5 million over 5 years) will student fellows will gain technical skills, academic credit or paid internships, work experience, career preparation support and engagement with the community, and STEM-focused career placement opportunities.

The Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity brings an equity-based approach to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in the city's hardest-hit communities. Services and supports are tailored to meet the unique challenges of New Yorkers in communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. More specifically, the Taskforce has made a series of announcements to build generational wealth including:
--Employee Ownership - pathway for employees to succeed their employers
--New M/WBE requirements, mentoring and matching services
--Equitable Ownership - requiring at least 25% M/WBE and/or non-profit ownership in Affordable Housing projects
--NYC Acquisition Fund - $210M loan fund for M/WBEs and non-profit developers

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