Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson speaks before the DC Council and the public about her reasons for proposing to close 20 schools at the Wilson Building Thursday, November 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson speaks before the DC Council and the public about her reasons for proposing to close 20 schools at the Wilson Building Thursday, November 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

In an effort to improve educational opportunities for Washington, D.C.’s Black male students, Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson (pictured) plans to invest $20 million in private and public dollars to support programs geared toward their needs, the Huffington Post reports.

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In a project that Henderson says has everything to do with “mathematics,” the D.C. Public Education Fund is working with her office to raise money to support the initiatives, which fall outside the system’s operating budget, according to the Post:

Black and Latino boys make up 43 percent of the students enrolled in D.C.’s public schools. The graduation rates, reading and math scores and attendance of minority boys are all lagging in the District. By fourth grade, nearly half of the city’s Black and Latino male students are reading below grade level.

In the District, 48 percent of Black male students and 57 percent of Hispanic male students graduate in four years, compared with 66 percent of their classmates. Only about a third of Black male students are proficient in reading and math, compared with nearly 66 percent of students who are not Black or Latino males, according to DC CAS scores.

The announcement comes at a time when the global spotlight is on the United States after a string of Black men have died at the hands of White police officers, drawing sharp focus on the failures of the criminal justice, and economic, and educational systems.

The push is a citywide effort led by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser who is working to improve equity and increase opportunities for Black and Latino males. The efforts also align with President Obama’s work to help keep male minority students in school and out of prison.

With such an investment, as the Post notes, the city could see improved graduation rates and a rise in scores for reading and math.

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