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  • Many African-American boys fall behind early in their schooling and never catch up.

  • Fewer than 20 percent are proficient in math and reading in both fourth and eighth grades.

  • Just over 50 percent of African-American males graduate from high school.

  • One-third of Black men in the United States who attend four-year colleges graduates within six years, compared with 45 percent of Hispanic men, 57 percent of White men, and 64 percent of Asian men.

  • Approximately 17% of all Black male students who enter community colleges will earn certificates or associate degrees or transfer to four-year institutions within three years.

  • Black male undergraduates are less prepared for the rigors of college-level work compared to their peers from other racial groups.

  • Over the past three decades, African-American men have made little to no progress in higher education attainment and whether gifted, high-achieving, or unengaged, they still wrestle with negotiating and developing both academic and Black male identities.

  • On college campuses, Black males experience hyper-surveillance, stereotype threat, and gender role expectations.

A major issue that continues to plague America’s educational reformers is the underachievement of students of color, particularly African Americans. In spite of being the focus of state and local initiatives, the achievement gap between students of color and their White and Asian peers continues to create questions about the strength of our nation’s educational system. The achievement gap typically refers to the discrepancy in academic achievement between different ethnic or socioeconomic groups. Subgroups can be based on a variety of factors such as gender and geographic location, among others; however, the disparities due to race are often at the forefront of discussion and research.

Numerous studies show that Black males are regularly targeted and viewed as a threat in school settings. From pre-K through postsecondary education, African American (or Black) males experience educational environments that are not nurturing and conducive to their specific needs. Kunjufu suggested that African American males stop caring about their education as early as elementary school. They are suspended and expelled at higher rates than any other group, more likely to be placed in remedial education or labeled as having a learning disability, least likely to be enrolled in advanced placement courses, and least likely to enroll in college when compared to their White male counterparts and same-race female counterparts. Black males are only 6% of the U.S. population and account for approximately 33% of all student dropouts. To make matters worse, it is estimated that 42% of Black males and 37% of Latino males will have failed a grade level before entering high school. In a 2010 report published by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, it was noted that only 47% of Black males graduated from high school in four years. Consequently, when Black males do matriculate to higher education institutions, they graduate at low rates. Generally, less than one-third of men of color graduated with a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Black males continue to produce disturbing outcomes when measured against other subgroups, particularly when it comes to infractions
impact their academics, and in addition to under-performing, reports indicate that suspended students feel less connected to their school, tend to be less invested, and lack the motivation to achieve (Gregory, et al., 2010).


My Brother's Keeper Initiative (MBK) - MBK is an initiative launched by President Barack Obama on February 27, 2014. The six main goals and objectives of MBK are: (1) entering school ready to learn; (2) reading at grade level by third grade; (3) graduating from high school ready for college and career; (4) completing post-secondary education or training; (5) successfully entering the workforce; and (6) reducing violence and providing a second chance. The President’s call to action was a reflection of his commitment to close opportunity and educational gaps faced by too many young people—boys and young men of color in particular (Task Force One Year Report, 2015). The President’s impetus for this initiative is deeply rooted in his belief that “my neighbor’s child is my child—that each of us has an obligation to give every child the same chance this country gave so many of us (Task Force 90 Report, 2014).” His announcement encouraged honest and truthful dialogue around the country and a greater sense of responsibility among community leaders and young people themselves to put all youth in a position to succeed, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.


(just a few here; however, there many more)

  • Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center - Ohio State University

  • Black Male Initiative - University of Maryland at College Park

  • African-American Male Initiative - Georgia University System (27 campuses)

  • Baltimore City Community College received $2.37 million in federal support to offer mentoring, tutoring, bus tickets, and books

There comes a time when one must take a position that neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.


  • Aud, S., Hussar, W., Planty, M., Snyder, T., Bianco, K., Fox, M., ...Drake, L. (2010). The Condition of Education 2010 (NCES Publication No. 2010-028). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S.Department of Education. Retrieved from

  • Baldridge, B., Hill, M., & Davis, E. J. (2011). New possibilities: (Re)engaging Black males in community-based educational spaces. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 14(1), 121-136.

  • Davis, J. E. (2004). Early schooling and the achievement of African American males. Urban Education, 38, 515-537.

  • Davis, J. E., & Jordan, W. J. (1994). The effects of school context, structure, and experiences on  African American males in middle and high school. The Journal of Negro Education, 63,  570-587.

  • Harper, S.R. (2012). Black male student success in higher education: A report from the    National Black Male College Achievement Study. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education. 

  • Joe, E. M., & Davis, J. E. (2010). Parental influence, school readiness, and early academic achievement for African American boys. The Journal of Negro Education, 78, 260-276.

  • Jordan, W. J., & Cooper, R. (2002). Cultural issues related to high school reform: Deciphering the case of black males. Symposium on African American Male Achievement. Baltimore, MD: CRESPAR/Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved from

  • National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Status and trends in the education  of racial and ethnic minorities. Washington, DC: Author

  • Schott Foundation for Public Education (2010). Yes we can: The Schott 50 state report on public education and Black males. Cambridge, MA: Author.

  • Warde, B. (2008). Staying the course: Narratives of African American may have completed a baccalaureate degree. Journal of African American Studies, 12(1), 59-72.

  • White House My Brother’s Keeper Task Force One Year Report (2015).

  • Zell, M. (2011). I am my brother’s keeper: The impact of a brother2brother program on African American men in college. Journal of African American Males in Education,     2(2), 216-224.

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