Biondi School honors ChalleNGe co-founder Hugh Price

Social and emotional maturity are as critical to job success as academic excellence, according to Hugh B. Price, yet  schools tend to downplay the soft skills.

Price is trying to change that, and on Feb. 26 he brought his message to the Biondi School in Yonkers when he was inducted in its Black History Wall of Fame.

Young men and women are at Biondi because they have behavioral problems or have abused drugs or alcohol or have been delinquent. School districts in New York City and Westchester County sent them to the private, special education school to learn how to master their emotions and behaviors as they learn academic and vocational skills.

Such programs will become increasingly crucial for a healthy economy, Price wrote last year in an economic study for the Brookings Institution. Demographic trends indicate that African American and Latino youth will comprise a growing proportion of the workforce.  Yet, despite “glimmers of progress,” they still consistently lag in academic achievement.

Price, who lives in New Rochelle, and the Biondi School are essentially in the same business: helping children who are struggling against overwhelming odds to build good lives. Yet, until recently they were unaware of one another.