Early in 2010, the College Board issued the report The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color. This was the culmination of two years of qualitative research into the comparative and, indeed, in some cases, the absolute lack of success that males of color are experiencing as they traverse the education pipeline. This research focused on conversations, which we called Dialogue Days, that engaged members of four groups — African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans — in a series of discourses designed to get at the issues confronting these young men. The findings were a powerful reminder of the disparate educational outcomes of different groups in the United States.
Within a generation, the United States will be a much more diverse nation. In fact, in less than half a century, no racial or ethnic group will be a majority. We also knew that the fastest-growing populations in the country were those minority groups with the lowest levels of educational attainment. We were assured by the data that if present levels of education and current population trends hold, the U.S. will see a decline in the educational attainment of the country as a whole.
In order to regain the nation’s once-preeminent international position in the percentage of young adults with postsecondary credentials, we must begin to matriculate and graduate populations of American students who traditionally have been underrepresented at the postsecondary level. The educational achievement of young men of color demands significant dialogue; currently, just 26 percent of African Americans, 24 percent of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 18 percent of Hispanic Americans have at least an associate degree. In addition, in each racial and ethnic group young women are outperforming young men with respect to the attainment of high school diplomas, with even more pronounced disparities at the postsecondary level. The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color initiative seeks to identify existing — and needed — research around this issue, understand the “why” and provide an overview of the legal landscape within which solutions must be developed.
We have conducted an extensive data and literature review to find out what is known to date on the situation facing young men of color. The College Board, in partnership with the Business Innovation Factory, have engaged these young men directly to understand how they view their experiences and to add their voice to the discussion of how to better meet their needs.