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Advancing Postsecondary Success for Men of Color through Policy and Systems Change

by Christine Robinson; Luis Ponjuan; Ronald B. Mincy

May 1, 2019

Completion of higher education is of particular value to men of color. Through this achievement, they unlock their own potential, improve their career options and lifetime earnings, and enable themselves to best contribute to their families and communities. Beyond individual benefits, completing a postsecondary education is important to the overall prosperity and vitality of our nation, better enabling communities to create, innovate, sustain, and persevere. The skills and experiences acquired through the completion of a higher education degree or credential help to strengthen the nation's labor force and economic systems and contribute to every part of our national fabric. Moreover, children whose parents hold postsecondary degrees have better health outcomes and educational advantages. Often, they maintain or improve upon the economic status of their parents. So, it stands to reason that an investment in increasing the number of boys and men of color who complete higher education is an investment in our future collective and societal well-being.

  • Postsecondary institutions must leverage their resources collectively with local nonprofits, institutional offices, and other stakeholders to develop specific first-year experiences for male students of color.
  • Postsecondary institutions must support men of color in applying for financial aid. Additionally, they must provide workshops to help these students balance financial responsibilities with school and family obligations throughout their postsecondary education.
  • Colleges must reform developmental education policies by revising sequencing requirements to allow students enrolled in developmental education to complete such courses while they are enrolled in college credit courses or creating other strategies so that these students spend less time (and money) on coursework for which they receive no credit toward graduation requirements.
  • Postsecondary institutions must help male students of color obtain academic advising, academic support services (e.g. tutoring), and peer mentoring to ensure they have adequate institutional support.
  • Beyond improving the cultural competency of faculty and professional staff, institutions must also hire more men of color in faculty and professional staff positions.
  • In addition to hiring individuals who look like and speak the native languages of men of color from diverse backgrounds (e.g., Latino, West African, East African, Native American, and Arab and/or Muslim students), institutions must also create access to information and spaces (e.g., gyms, campus offices, student houses) that help male students of color address their personal and emotional wellbeing in safe, affirming spaces.
  • Postsecondary institutions must also provide proactive (i.e. intrusive), intentional, required academic advising services so that male students of color better understand course prerequisites and sequences, timelines, and milestones toward degree completion.
  • Postsecondary institutions must actively work to eliminate racism, homophobia, and other factors that create a negative climate for male students of color.