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.
Takeoff: Institutional Innovations for College Men of Color
The Men of Color Initiative’s signature strategy is focused on supporting 12 community colleges across the country as they pilot, implement and scale innovative efforts to support men of color on campus. ECMC Foundation has provided a grant to the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center to launch Takeoff: Institutional Innovations for College Men of Color. Through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, 15 select colleges have received subgrants in the amount of $75,000 and an extensive range of technical assistance, training and supports. If you are interested in learning more about Takeoff or have any questions for the team at the USC Race and Equity Center, visit https://www.collegetakeoff.org/.
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.