Compton College (CA) hired its first director of Black and males of color success last fall, a role designed to “ensure Black men stay enrolled, succeed academically and graduate,” reported Inside Higher Ed. Antonio Banks, who serves in that role, remembers how it felt seeing many of his Black male peers leave college without graduating. He said it “really sparked my interest in trying to make educational pathways more viable for Black men.”
Compton’s president and CEO Keith Curry believes that positions like Banks’ will become a trend in higher education. “You have to have someone responsible for this work,” he told the site. “I believe that this is the model. I’m committed to it financially, and I’m committed to it because I know that we can’t do what we have done in the past. If you look at the data, the past didn’t work for all students.”
Many Black males come to college as first-generation and low-income students, Banks said, lacking “navigational capital about how to successfully get through the institution” while balancing academics, jobs, family responsibilities and financial concerns. As a result, Black and Latino men enroll and persist to graduation at lower rates than their peers, often impacting their earning power.
At Compton, the pandemic caused over 1,000 Black and Latino men to drop out, Curry said. “It’s frustrating. You talk about student success, but you know there’s a problem and you’re trying to figure out a solution.” So, Banks’ position was created using federal COVID-19 relief funds. “I would love for this to be the new trend where colleges are invested in these types of positions to really look at how do you provide services to all Black students,” he said. “And how do you change the culture of your organization with the focus on students who have been marginalized?”
Read more about this position at Compton College and similar ones at other institutions here.