Program Gives Minority Males Tools to Succeed

Cody Daniels and Karen Gavis, The Collegian, October 24, 2012

If the past is any indication, more than half the African-American and Hispanic males who enrolled at TCC [Tarrant County College] for the first time this semester won’t be back next year.

Joy Gates Black hopes a new program—the Men of Color Mentoring Program—will change all that.

Gates Black, vice chancellor for student success, spearheaded the implementation of the initiative.

“It is a creative and unique program that will give minorities with a need for a little extra help an equal chance at completing and excelling in college,” she said.

African-American and Hispanic males are the least successful demographic group at TCC in terms of grade-point average and course-completion percentage, Gates Black said. Data show that only 44 percent of first-time-in-college students from that group who enrolled in the fall of 2010 attended the following fall.

“These students had not graduated or transferred,” she said. “They had simply stopped attending.”

The program aims to increase retention and completion rates for African-American and Hispanic males in regards to their degree audit programs, increase the awareness and use of available support services by this group and provide opportunities for civic engagement through community projects.

Strategies include personal mentors, specialized tutoring, specific and specialized degree plans, extra curriculum, financial aid and close contact with area businesses and programs to help students stay involved in their community.

The program will be managed and funded through the current Title III federal grant aimed at increasing student success. {snip} 

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Gates Black said faculty and staff are also invited to participate, and those who do so will receive specialized training on connecting with minority students and keeping them in school.

“Trinity River Campus ran a test trial of the program this past fall and spring,” she said, “and although we didn’t have a lot of participants, the data was clear that the African-Americans who participated had significantly higher grades and a lower dropout rate than the students that did not participate.”

The impetus for programs like the Men of Color Mentoring Initiative comes after the publicized success of similar programs at other large, urban community colleges, Gates Black said, including those in Dallas and Houston.

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Gates Black said she hopes such programs will eventually prove themselves to the extent that they become mandatory for every college.

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