NEW YORK (AP) _ The American Federation of Teachers and its New York City chapter announced a $500,000 initiative Thursday to fund career and technical education in New York and four other cities.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, AFT President Randi Weingarten joined United Federation of Teachers’ President Michael Mulgrew to discuss the five-city partnership.

The AFT plans to partner with school districts, community colleges, city governments and business groups to support career and technical education through a program called “Promising Pathways.”

De Blasio said that these types of programs help address income inequality.

“If we’re going to address income inequality we’re not going to do it with minimum wage jobs,” he said. “We’re going to do it by getting more and more people to the middle class.”

The AFT `s innovation fund will invest approximately $500,000 to support AFT affiliates in Peoria, Illinois; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Miami.

The initiative is modeled after New York City’s career and technical education programs. The aim is to provide students with technical proficiency for skilled trades, applied sciences and technology.

De Blasio said that vocational training has shifted far beyond woodshop in the 21st century.

“This is a brand new world, CTE means everything,” he said.

Weingarten said she hoped the model would be successful enough to take to Washington for federal government support.

U.S. Secretary for Education Arne Duncan tweeted out his thanks to the AFT for launching the program.