A report from the College Board Reports offers insights into the educational challenges faced by young men of color and outlines a series of concrete recommendations for addressing these issues:

Nearly half of young men of color age 15 to 24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead.

This jarring statistic is just one of many highlighted in two new reports that will be released today by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center at an event held in collaboration with the Harvard University’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research in Cambridge, Mass. The reports, The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress and Capturing the Student Voice, are especially relevant given the need for these young men to attain postsecondary degrees if the nation’s economy is to thrive and compete globally.

The reports provide the most comprehensive data, research findings and recommendations to date to improve the educational experiences and pathways of young men of color. The qualitative research study, conducted in collaboration with the Business Innovation Factory (BIF), provides findings from 92 in-depth personal student interviews that are captured through video storytelling. This information is combined in a dynamic website. Together, these resources provide a compelling narrative that tracks the progress and pitfalls for young men of color from high school through college. In addition, there is a legal implications and policy brief that provides guidance for designing programs and policies to serve these students. Last year, the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center released a report that explored The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color. This initiative builds off that work.

The reports seek to give a balanced view of the educational issues that exist for young men of color across four minority groups — African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics/Latinos and Native Americans — throughout the K–20 pipeline. According to the findings, just 26 percent of African Americans, 18 percent of Hispanic Americans, and 24 percent of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders have at least an associate degree. The reports also provide an analysis of the postsecondary pathways for young men of color and identify the barriers and catalysts to college.

“At a time when our nation is committed to reclaiming its place as the world leader in higher education, we can no longer afford to ignore the plight of our young men of color,” said Gaston Caperton, College Board President. “As long as educational opportunities are limited for some, we all suffer. We rise as one nation and we fall as one nation. But if we keep working hard — if we keep listening to each other and to our students — we can soften our landings and reach historic new heights.”

“These reports cast into stark view what all Americans, unfortunately, have known for a long time: that access to education in this country is a right that not all of our children enjoy in equal measure,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. “But the devastating numbers and the sobering statistics are a call to action through the recommendations outlined in this innovative report. Only with genuine and profound educational reform can we create equal opportunities for young men of color and indeed for all Americans.”

“As our country works to rise above the serious economic challenges we face, we must commit to reaching every young person in our schools,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “If we as a nation are to succeed – economically and as a leader in education and innovation – we need all of our students to succeed as well.”

“In the current economic climate and era of global competitiveness, there is an urgent need to address the stark and undeniable barriers that prevent so many young men of color from earning college degrees and reaching their fullest potential,” said Business Innovation Factory founder and Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan. “By capturing the authentic voices of these students, we begin to bring the experiences of these young men to life in a way that makes their voices central to the national conversation about transforming the education system. BIF is proud to be part of this important initiative.”

Key recommendations outlined in the studies include encouraging policymakers to make improving outcomes for young men of color a national priority, increasing community, business and school partnerships to provide mentoring and support for these young men, and improving teacher education programs and providing professional development training that includes cultural and gender-responsive training.

The two reports, and the launch of a new national initiative to boost the economic success of young men of color, will be announced at an event hosted in collaboration with the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. A distinguished panel, moderated by National Public Radio’s Claudio Sanchez, includes:

  • Representative Joaquin Castro, Texas
  • James Comer, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, and Founder of Comer School Development Program
  • Hill Harper, Actor/Activist
  • Neil Horikoshi, Executive Director, Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
  • Estela Mara Bensimon, Co-Director, Center for Urban Education and Professor, University of Southern California
  • LeManuel “Lee” Bitsoi, Minority Action Plan (MAP) Program Director, Harvard Medical School

Also in attendance will be:

  • Gaston Caperton, Former Governor of West Virginia and President, The College Board
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center will also host a Capitol Hill briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Native American Caucus from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 21, 2011, in the Rayburn House Office Building Room 2175.

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center was established to help transform education in America. Guided by the College Board’s principles of excellence and equity in education, the Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Critical connections between policy, research and real-world practice are made to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in education today. Drawing from the experience of the College Board’s active membership consisting of education professionals from more than 5,900 institutions, priorities include College Preparation & Access, College Affordability & Financial Aid, and College Admission & Completion.

The Business Innovation Factory (BIF) creates real-world laboratories where organizations can design, prototype and test new models for delivering value. BIF’s mission is to enable business model and systems-level innovation in areas of high social impact, including health care, education, energy and entrepreneurship. An independent, nonprofit organization created in 2004, BIF brings partners together to collaborate across traditional boundaries on experiments that deliver transformative, systems-level innovation and address the most pressing problems of our time. Through its programs, events and projects, BIF has created a national network of innovators who are passionate about radically rethinking how value is delivered across the public and private sectors.

Named after William Edward Burghardt Du Bois who, in 1895, was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University, the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research is the nation’s oldest research center dedicated to the study of the history, culture, and social institutions of Africans and African Americans. The Institute was established in 1975 to create fellowships that would facilitate the writing of doctoral dissertations in areas related to Afro-American Studies. Today, the Institute awards up to twenty fellowships annually to scholars at various stages of their careers in the fields of African and African American Studies, broadly defined to cover the expanse of the African Diaspora. The Du Bois Institute’s research projects and visiting fellows form the nucleus around which revolve an array of lecture series, art exhibitions, readings, conferences, and archival and publication projects.

To learn more about College Board advocacy, please visit advocacy.collegeboard.org.


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