“FOR BLACK youths, a path to ruination, not success.” That was the headline on the recent account by The Post’s Courtland Milloy of the death of Phillip Jones, who was shot at the age of 17 while waiting for a bus. Sadly, this waste of the life of a young man of color is all too familiar in the District. That is why a new education initiative focusing attention and resources on young men of color is so urgently needed.

District school and city officials announced on Jan. 21, coincidentally the same day Phillip Jones’s story was chronicled, the launch of a $20 million program targeting black and Latino male students. “Empowering Males of Color” is part of the White House’s nationwide My Brother’s Keeper effort to improve opportunities for African American and Hispanic youth and is in keeping with Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s promise to make young minority men a priority of her administration.

Male students of color make up 43 percent of those enrolled in the city’s traditional public schools, but they lag their counterparts by nearly every measure, including reading and math proficiency and graduation rates. That lack of success in school too often has dire, lifelong consequences, including higher rates of incarceration and unemployment, lower wages and death at an earlier age.

The boys are not the problem. We are not doing enough to empower them, support and engage them,” said Robert Simmons, the school system’s chief of innovation and research, in outlining how the District will use a mix of public and private monies on proven strategies like mentoring, school engagement programs and recruiting more minority teachers. Most exciting are plans to open an all-male college preparatory high school east of the Anacostia River by the 2016-2017 school year. The city will partner with the Chicago-based Urban Prep Academies, a highly successful network that has achieved a 100 percent college acceptance rate for seniors for the past five years.

The District will gauge effectiveness by benchmarking things like test scores, attendance rates and Advanced Placement enrollment. Perhaps the truest measure, though, will be when the death of a young man like Phillip Jones is seen not as just another tragic — but routine — event.