CITY OF NEWBURGH – The Newburgh School district is formally launching an initiative aimed at boosting the achievement of black and Latino students, whose assessment scores and graduation rates persistently trail those for white students.

On Saturday Newburgh Free Academy’s main campus will host a kickoff event at 1 p.m. for the district’s version of “My Brother’s Keeper,” a nationwide initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2014 and adopted by the state’s Department of Education.

Last year the Newburgh school district won a multiyear grant worth $150,000 annually to improve the academic achievement of black and Latino students, whose graduation rates dropped significantly last year after a large increase the year before.

My Brother’s Keeper focuses on six goals, including having students reading at grade level by third grade, graduating and completing college or post-high-school training.

“It is time to move from rhetoric to action,” Superintendent Roberto Padilla said.

In terms of gaps in four-year graduation rates, Newburgh has dramatically improved since 2014, when the rate for white students was 30 percentage points higher than that for blacks and 23 percentage points higher than the rate for Latino students.

The graduation rate for black students improved to 78 percent in 2016 and for Latino students to 69 percent. But the rates for both fell significantly last year, to 65 percent for both groups.