Eric Adams, New York City’s newly minted mayor, wants the mask mandate in schools to come to an end. It’s a sticking point for the former Brooklyn Borough President who said in a November interview, "I think part of the development in the socialization of a child is their smile." 

But as infection rates are seeing an upward trend due to more time indoors and waning immunity, the goal of having children go mask-free in schools will prove to be a balancing act—one that Bridge Philanthropic Consulting CEO, Dwayne Ashley hopes to make a bit easier. As the head of the city’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity’s (TRIE) grant issuing process, Ashley is working within 33 disproportionately impacted neighborhoods with significant racial and economic disparities, to ensure that vaccination rates align with the Mayor’s goal to have 70 percent (6 million New Yorkers) fully vaccinated. 

Ashley says that TRIE neighborhoods were identified due to their high immigrant and undocumented populations; low income and poor literacy rates;  as well as low voter turnout and concern for mental health support.  Moreover, they are localities that are slow to receive aid, assistance and resources that are available to other districts. 

Through the task force, TRIE Neighborhood Coalitions have been formed to increase local coordination and strengthen work that is already happening in these neighborhoods all across the city. Each coalition works to respond to community-based needs through sharing information, organizing resources, and providing fast and accurate feedback to the answers posed by constituents. The mayor’s goal of ending the mask mandate could impact the number of children vaccinated, thus amplifying the work of the task force.

“Bridge Philanthropic Consulting’s responsibility is to make sure that TRIE Neighborhood Coalitions are armed with the most current and accurate information to share with neighborhood residents so that parents can make informed decisions regarding the health of their children and by extension make NYC schools and classrooms safer,” says Ashley.