A community of belonging. A space to build relationships. The opportunity to have one’s success affirmed. These are qualities of many programs targeting men of color that have become fixtures in recent years at colleges and universities around the United States.
The Male Student Success Initiative (MSSI) is a five-year-old program at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) designed to support male students of color throughout their academic journey, leading ultimately to graduation or transfers to four-year institutions. Research to date indicates that inadequate social, emotional, and campus support can make it harder for men of color to complete degrees, as can insufficient preparation or personal challenges outside of academic work.
Heightened attention to the college persistence and graduation rates of men of color over the last 15 to 20 years has fueled a movement of college administrators, student leaders, faculty members, and postsecondary researchers who have worked to change narratives for men of color, in particular the narrative centered on their deficits rather than their achievements. This movement is grounded in an understanding that men of color bring a variety of assets to college that shine in a supportive community with strong peer and mentoring relationships.
MDRC is conducting an efficacy evaluation of MSSI’s program model through its Men of Color College Achievement (MoCCA) Project. MoCCA began by partnering with CCBC to support program model refinements aligned with empirical research findings and has now moved into an evaluation phase.