Meeting the Needs of Young African-American Men

Eric Becoats pic

Eric Becoats

As founder and chief executive officer of The Becoats Foundation, Eric Becoats has implemented the African-American Male Initiative to promote achievement within this population. Eric Becoats has also worked toward this goal as developer of The Brotherhood Initiative, which he implemented while serving in the Guilford County school system of North Carolina.

According to recent data, young African-American men are at risk across multiple areas of academic achievement. They have a 250 percent lower rate of enrollment in gifted programs, regardless of previous academic record, and receive suspension three times more often than their White classmates. This lost education time can seriously impact achievement. In fact, less than 50 percent of African-American boys receive their high school diplomas on time.

To close this gap, experts suggest, school systems need to develop and implement culturally sensitive solutions. Successful administrators have found that these solutions focus less on academic metrics and more on personal solutions, as the underlying problems lie in affect and emotional response rather than in capability. Students need supportive and caring adults that inundate them with positive messages, as well as active connections to communities that stand behind them.

In the classroom, African-American boys need education that is relevant to their cultural backgrounds and experiences. For some schools, this may mean integrating materials that actively fight against biases and stereotypes. Students also need teachers who believe in their abilities and challenge them to reach their potential, while supporting them as they struggle with potential past traumas.