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New Initiative Aims to Help Colleges and Universities Better Serve Men of Color

ECMC Foundation Launches Effort to Support Black, Latinx, Southeast Asian and Native American Men Through College and Into the Workforce

December 05, 2022

LOS ANGELES―ECMC Foundation announced today that it will commit nearly $20 million over the next five years in grants and investments that seek to transform the postsecondary experience for Black, Latinx, Southeast Asian, and Native American men. The Men of Color (MOC) Initiative aims to increase degree attainment at all levels of postsecondary education by:

  • Developing new programs for men of color and strengthening the effectiveness of existing programs on college campuses.
  • Addressing structural and systemic factors at the campus and systems levels related to the intersection of racial, ethnic and gender inequities.
  • Building and expanding networks and partnerships to support men of color across various college campuses.

According to the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, men of color represented nearly 44% of all male students enrolled at institutions of higher education in 2019. Despite its size and great potential for impact, this population experiences a unique set of challenges with racial, gender and class implications that can contribute to a decreased sense of belonging on campus, as well as persistence and completion disparities. Disaggregated data illustrate how systemic barriers have resulted in persistent discrepancies in postsecondary outcomes among men of color. For example, after six years, colleges and universities awarded bachelor’s degrees to 52.2% of first-time, full-time men of color attending four-year institutions beginning in 2014, compared to 60.2% of all men. Further, racist stereotypes and implicit biases continue to bolster negative narratives about men of color in higher education.

“We want to build a postsecondary landscape that allows men of color to attend colleges and universities designed to promote their success and well-being. Our first-of-its-kind initiative aims to address longstanding disparities and dismantle outdated stereotypes which persist despite decades-long efforts to support men of color on and off campus,” said ECMC Foundation President Peter J. Taylor. “Our approach strives to be comprehensive in that it includes not only Black and Latinx men, but also Southeast Asian and Native American men.”

ECMC Foundation launched the initiative with a $1.8 million grant to the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center. This funding will be used to support 12 community colleges as they pilot, implement and scale innovative efforts to support men of color on campus. The goal is to create a body of evidence on how institutions can better remove barriers to postsecondary completion for this population.

“In its earliest years, our center’s reputation was built on rigorous research and substantive partnerships that aimed to improve rates of success among college men of color,” said USC Professor Shaun Harper, the Center’s founder and executive director. “Being afforded the opportunity to reengage that work and place it alongside our more recent efforts to advance racial equity in community colleges across the country makes this project especially exciting for our team.”

“We want to better understand which programs and approaches are most impactful,” said ECMC Foundation Program Officer Saúl Valdez, who is overseeing the initiative. “Right now, the field has limited knowledge in this area. This work will change that. Equity-centered and data-informed strategies are our way forward.”

In addition to the funding designated for community colleges, the Men of Color Initiative will identify grant opportunities that lead to systems change at the institutional, systems or state level. Other colleges and universities, postsecondary systems and nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply.

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