The President recently launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to build ladders of opportunity for all youth, including boys and young men of color. The effort aims to improve measurably the expected educational and life outcomes for youth and address the persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color, including Hispanics. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (Initiative) is working to advance the goals of My Brother’s Keeper for the Hispanic community. To carry out its mission, in January the Initiative convened a roundtable discussion with a group of academics, researchers, practitioners, funders, and thought leaders whose work addresses issues Latino males face.
In the Initiative’s initial research – confirmed by the dialogue at the roundtable, something became clear; there is a lack of sufficient exploration of this issue for the Hispanic population. The amount of data collection and analysis, of scholarship, of resources invested, and of general public awareness about the situation of Hispanic boys and young men needs to increase, to remove barriers that prevent young Latino males from contributing fully to their communities and society.
Earlier this year, The President affirmed that this would be a year of action, and accordingly the Initiative has engaged stakeholders that are undertaking this challenge and are producing scholarship to support youth, including Hispanic boys and young men in reaching their full potential. For example, in Texas, since 2010 Dr. Victor B. Saenz and Dr. Luis Ponjuan have managed Project MALES, conducting research, sharing information, and implementing programming to move young Latino males through the education pipeline successfully and increase postsecondary completion.
And just after the President’s announcement of My Brother’s Keeper, Hispanics in Philanthropy released a new report called “The Right to Dream: Promising Practices Improve Odds for Latino Men and Boys” that highlights several programs that show merit in supporting young Hispanic males, and also recommends strategies and investments we can make as a society to ensure a globally competitive workforce.
We need more of this information, more data about what works, where the most effective work is taking place, and how we should create policies and invest time and resources to ensure that all youth are able to reach their full potential, including boys and young men of color who may face formidable institutional and systemic barriers. Young men of color are one of the greatest untapped economic resources in the United States.
There are two resources, made available by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), that further depict the state of education, providing critical data that reveal gaps and disparities for young men of color. First, the Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study, issued in August 2012 by the National Center for Education Statistics, examines differences between males and females overall and within racial/ethnic groups, as well as overall sex and racial/ethnic differences.
It presents 46 indicators of important developments and trends in the education of males and females within and across specific racial/ethnic groups. These indicators focus on student demographics, school characteristics, student behaviors and afterschool activities, academic preparation and achievement, students’ college knowledge, postsecondary education, and postsecondary outcomes and employment.
Second, just today ED’s Office for Civil Rights has released the results of its 2011-12 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC presents wide-ranging education access and equity data from our nation’s public schools. For the 2011-12 school year the data was collected from every public school and school district in the country.
The Initiative is committed to working with leaders and stakeholders to advance My Brother’s Keeper, and identifying and highlighting Bright Spots – programs, leaders, schools, organizations, or models that address this topic for Hispanics. Working together and relying on the numbers, we will unlock the full potential of Hispanic boys and young men, along with all of our young people – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans. These two reports will go a long way toward providing stakeholders with the data they need to identify gaps and disparities among young Latino males, and seek ways to close them.
Marco Davis is the Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics