Perhaps following the lead of Philadelphia, which, as we told you, is stepping up to the plate with a new initiative to help Black men in that city, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) has decided to form a task force whose mission will be to help more African-American male students graduate high school and go to college.
Called the “African-American Male Initiative,” the program is being led by a 13-member task force appointed by CPS. There is no funding for the program yet, but those involved intend to seek private money and government grants, with the initial goal being centers at five high schools around the city that will tutor and mentor Black young men identified as being “at risk.”
The program will ultimately be open to young men of all races, but it’s especially important for young Black men.
Almost 70 percent of the students in CPS are Black, and many of them face problems of poverty and crime that in turn lead to poor educations. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the high school graduation rate for Black men in Ohio was only 58 percent in 2009, while the overall graduation rate was at 83 percent. What’s more, in November 2010, the Council of Great City Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to remedying plights in urban public school systems, released a report showing that Black males were twice as likely to drop out of school as whites, and were more likely to be held back a grade.
A program started under former Gov. Ted Strickland in 2007 was dedicated to doing the exact same thing as the African-American Male Initiative, and it was actually working: promotion rates for Black males rose between the ninth and tenth grade. However, that program was killed under recent budget cuts, so organizers need something new now.
It should be noted that these kinds of programs pop up from time to time all around the country. (A new one in Illinois, for instance, is called the Ish Project.) But many of them have to face harsh economic realities, as Strickland’s program did. Here’s hoping that this latest initiative lives to see next year.