African American Male Initiative
The THECB has allocated over $28 million in state and federal funding over the last few years for programs providing direct services to disadvantaged students. This program funding has been designated to support economically disadvantaged or underrepresented students. The majority of the funding is targeted toward institutions of higher education with large numbers of African American and Hispanic students as a part of the Accelerated Plan for Closing the Gaps by 2015
. The THECB strategies include (1) Participation of Hispanic Students and African American Male Students, and (2) Success of Hispanic and African American Students.
As part of this plan,
the THECB launched the African American Male Initiative in 2009 to provide targeted funding to help improve historically low African American male participation and success rates in Texas higher education. The Accelerated Action Plan and the African American Male Initiative have intensified the state's focus on this important challenge. The improvements in participation and success for African Americans are encouraging, particularly among males, but there is more to be done. In addition to the THECB's targeted investment in promising practices to improve retention and graduation, institutions continue to place a strong emphasis on helping the state meet its goals for this cohort of Texas students. Identifying and scaling best practices will help build on progress made.
Although improved, persistence and completion rates for African American students, particularly African American males, continue to trail other groups, and the THECB has identified several programs that have demonstrated a positive impact on the success of minority students and is funding projects to strengthen mentoring, academic support, and other services aimed at minority students in the higher education pipeline.
Program 1: African American Male Initiative (AAMI) Student Success Programs
The aim of the AAMI Student Success Programs is to support the achievement of greater retention and graduation rates for African American males by providing customized and motivating programming such as hosting events featuring national speakers; offering mentoring opportunities; and providing financial literacy workshops, tutoring, and other academic collaborations across campus departments. Lone Star College System's Minority Male Initiative and Sam Houston State University's Establishing Leadership In and Through Education (E.L.I.T.E.) program were awarded funding for demonstration projects on their campuses. Each program is currently in operation and provides role models and mentoring support for African American and Latino male students. Participating students are required to maintain a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) and are encouraged to either transfer to a four-year institution after completing 60 semester credit hours at Lone Star College or complete a baccalaureate degree at Sam Houston State University.
African American male students participating in the minority male retention programs on both campuses showed improved persistence rates when compared to control groups receiving a variety of other services. One aspect of these programs different from other mentoring programs is that both programs pair minority male students as mentors and mentees which helps them draw on similar cultural and educational experiences to promote success.
Program 2: National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) African American Male Mentorship Project
The primary goal of the NPHC project is to ensure that African American males, who currently experience the highest dropout rate of all college students, improve their GPAs and persist in their studies through the initial 60 semester credit hour threshold. THECB partnered with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council to work with eight institutions of higher education (IHEs) to design and implement mentorship programs for African American males in their freshman and/or sophomore year of college.
Program 3: Texas Southern University College Completion Program
The purpose of the College Completion Program at Texas Southern University (TSU) is to increase the college completion rate, which is the lowest in the state, and to target a significant number of African American male students with mentoring, tutoring, and overall academic support programming. Beginning in 2011, this program was initiated to support TSU in addressing overall student success, and to give special attention to the needs of freshman and sophomore students to ensure their degree completion.
Although not targeted for African American male students, the following programs are also helping to positively impact participation and success rates of African American male students across Texas:
- Work-Study Mentorship Program - One goal of the Work-Study Mentorship Program is to help create a college-going culture among disadvantaged high school students by providing mentoring and tutoring services. A second goal is to serve existing college students by providing on-campus mentoring and tutoring services. This program is intended to affect both mentors and mentees, and over the last six years, has affected an impressive number of participants.
- First-Year Experience (FYE) Calling Program - The First-Year Experience (FYE) Calling Program aims to improve persistence and success rates for all first-time-in-college (FTIC) students. The program employs trained student leaders who make a series of phone calls to all FTIC students throughout the critical first year of college to ask them how they are faring. Call findings are shared with a FYE coordinator who takes appropriate action. IHE staff provide training to FYE Student Leaders, who also are required to assist with new student orientation and to arrange gatherings with their student cohorts at campus activities. The FYE program is being implemented at five Texas institutions with high-need minority populations.
- Advise TX College Advising Corps (Advise TX)
- Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)
- Comprehensive Student Success Program (CSSP)
In addition, THECB is also encouraging institutions to include the following success initiatives for their at-risk African American male students:
- Pre-college academic outreach (ex: Summer Bridge Programs);
- Financial aid assistance (ex: Federal Work-Study);
- Academic support program (ex: Supplemental Instruction);
- Pre-TSI Assessment preparation activities;
- Admissions and financial aid application assistance;
- Pre-college and college academic advising;
- Partnerships with public schools serving underrepresented students (feeder schools);
- Partnerships between community colleges and universities; and
- Early warning data tracking systems for data driven interventions.
For more information contact: Natalie Coffey