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Men of Color Initiative

Over the past two decades, experts have turned their attention toward improving K-12 educational policy to address inequities for historically underserved communities of students and families. As a result, significant progress has been made to get more young men of color into college. However, there has not been the same concerted efforts to ensure that men of color who start college are well supported on their journey toward degree completion.

Most men of color attend college after high school and hold high aspirations to earn a baccalaureate degree. Despite this population’s potential for impact, negative stereotypes and structural and systemic barriers stand in the way of postsecondary persistence and completion. Apart from a few efforts such as My Brother’s Keeper, launched by the White House in 2014, nationwide support for men of color is sparse and is provided with minimal focus on higher education.

A variety of localized programs aim to counter challenges experienced by men of color in college, but there is little quantitative research available on how such programs impact postsecondary outcomes, with few exceptions. By establishing the Men of Color Initiative, ECMC Foundation intends to bring focus to colleges and universities adopting data-informed and equity-centered programs and practices to better serve college students who are men of color.

Supporting Black, Latinx, Southeast Asian, and Native American Men Through College

The nearly $20 million in grants and investments deployed as part of the Men of Color Initiative will seek to remove barriers to postsecondary completion, build the capacity of systems, institutions and organizations, and, ultimately, transform the postsecondary ecosystem as described in the Foundation’s new strategic framework.

Our Signature Strategy

The initiative’s signature strategy will first focus on supporting 12 community colleges as they pilot, implement and scale innovative efforts to support men of color on campus. Programs may involve mentoring, academic coaching, personal and professional development, and other enrichment activities that promote persistence, transfer and completion. ECMC Foundation has provided a $1.8 million grant to the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center, which will in turn disburse subgrants through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process in the amount of $75,000 to 12 select colleges and offer an extensive range of technical assistance, training and supports to the selected institutions. Details on the RFP process will be released in early 2023. Sign up for Foundation news and updates to stay informed.

Ongoing Grant Opportunities

In addition to the signature strategy, the Foundation will accept letters of inquiry from intermediaries, institutions, systems and nonprofit organizations committed to improving degree completion among men of color on an ongoing basis.

Specifically, the Foundation will focus on supporting the broader ecosystem of organizations working toward systemic change that seek to address the following issues:  

  • Building the capacity for networks of institutions and systems of higher education to better understand and resolve key pressure points that impact men of color such as academic performance, gateway courses and academic programs where students have historically struggled.
  • Bolstering regional, state and national-level partnerships to develop, advance and establish men of color strategies across college campuses and networks of support.
  • Implementing innovative efforts to enact structural changes in areas such as proactive advising, mentoring and career development support models to help men of color complete college and transition into the workforce.
  • Recruiting/re-enrolling men of color campaigns for men of color who left their institution after accumulating credit-bearing academic units.
  • Scaling structured development opportunities for faculty and administrators to promote teaching and learning in culturally responsive ways.
  • Elevating the field’s understanding of issues facing men of color and solutions through narrative change and policy work.

Read Our Press Release

Our Approach

Our New Strategic Framework

The Foundation aims to drive systemic change, getting at the root causes of complex challenges in higher education, not just the symptoms. 

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