By Cliff Foster
A group of 15 or so faculty and staff members who gathered last week at the Tivoli made a pledge to male students at Metro State: We’re ready to help you.
All are volunteers in a fledgling effort called “Brother-2-Brother,” a program designed to improve the academic success of male students—particularly those who are the first in their families to attend college or are students of color.
Besides publicizing the College’s support services and programs, Brother-2-Brother is recruiting a cadre of “campus success coaches” willing to meet with male students periodically to provide guidance and a helping hand.
“We found in reading the research and anecdotally that our student population seems to respond best to more personal kinds of connections,” says Emily Kikue Frank, a career counselor in the Office of Career Services and a member of the Brother-2-Brother planning committee.
Others on the planning committee are Tony Price, director of campus recreation at Auraria, Derrick Haynes, director of the Student Academic Success Center, and Emilia Paul, associate vice president/student life.
Men graduating at lower rates than women
A 2010 report by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, “The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color,” says African-American women earn two-thirds of the higher education degrees awarded to African-American students; for Native Americans and Hispanic women, the number is 60 percent.
“The United States can no longer ignore the fact that, at each level of education, K-12 and higher education, male students from every racial and ethnic background face an educational crisis,” the report says.
Brother-2-Brother is designed to address that crisis. It is based on a successful program at the University of Central Florida, but a big hurdle at Metro State has been getting male students interested in the program.
Price said staffers sent more than 1,500 e-mail invitations and followed up with hundreds of phone calls to students. A handful showed up at the Tivoli reception. Last year, only about five students took him up on an offer of free dinner and a Nuggets game.
“We’ve got to go more to the marketing strategies of what the students are hip to,” he says. “There are a lot of different variables and we’re trying to figure out what we can do.”
One of those who received an e-mail and a phone call was Steffan Landin, a 24-year-old freshman. “I jump on as many resources as I can,” Landin said after the reception. “I’m really glad I came. It’s nice to know you’re in a community where everybody wants to help you.”
Price said the next step will be to conduct workshops with campus coaches, and encourage them to contact students, and develop a calendar of social, academic and leadership activities. Eventually, the hope is to recruit incoming students who will stick with the program and become peer-to-peer mentors.
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