Supporting male mentees

On Columbus Day weekend in Chicago, I joined participants from across the country to learn from experts in male mentoring at the “Forum on the Effectiveness of School-Based Male Mentoring,” co-hosted by the DePaul University Center for Access and Attainment and the Kenwood Academy Brotherhood.

We explored the critical issues of academic achievement and personal and social development of young males. The research suggests that there is an enormous need for targeted interventions for males:

  • 80% of high school dropouts are males
  • 50% of fourth and eighth-grade minority males in most urban districts and nationwide scored below basic levels
  • In college and career preparedness, minority males are twice as likely to drop out of high schools as Caucasian males

[caption id="attachment_479" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Zeeba Khalili attended the Forum on the Effectiveness of School-Based Male Mentoring"][/caption]Clearly, it isn’t an achievement gap we’re looking at, it’s a chasm and because of that, the creation or scaling up of quality programs specifically serving boys is urgent. Throughout my work with Boston Public Schools, I have heard repeatedly that more mentoring programs serving boys are a great need. This research demonstrated to me that the issue is a national one.

The Long Beach California School District has come together to try to change those statistics for its own district and has been remarkably successful. They created the Male Academy Program. Quentin Brown, the program administrator, talked about the initial creation of the program as a club, and its eventual integration district-wide because of its success. The Male Academy program, serving more than 300 students in high school and middle school, has seen increases in GPAs, significant decreases in campus tension between African-American and Latino male students, higher graduation rates, and higher participation in school leadership.

One of my favorite things that the Male Academy does is take photos of each young man in a graduation cap and gown. Those photos are posted in their program space so that the goal of graduating high school is not only a constant reminder but a visual reality.

It would be great to see a district-wide initiative like that in Boston, involving the higher education institutions in the city and impacting the high school and middle school students. The students have the potential for academic and social growth; now we need to provide them with a vehicle to attain it.

Guest author Zeeba Khalili is the school partnership associate at MMP