To learn what would work best at reaching African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino men in relation to education, we at Elgin Community College decided to engage in action research during which the students themselves would participate in creating a sustainable program at the College. We determined that we would best accomplish our outcomes if we created a program that is perceived as neither remedial nor honors. Instead, it would provide leadership-building opportunities for the young men. We also decided that we would make this initial program an experience that would be perceived as it was, which is special. This pilot group would be assisting us in determining the best plan of action. In addition, we determined to give the assisting students two credits. One credit would come from Management - Special Topics, and the other from General Student Development – SERVE (volunteers for community work).
Before the semester-long leadership program started, we gathered applications from male students and obtained volunteer Team Leaders/Mentors and Career Presenters from within ECC and the community at large during Fall 2009. (The application forms are attached.)
We also decided on the core structure of the Leadership Program. Students would complete an on-line assessment of their strengths and will read an accompanying text to the assessment.
A team building and planning retreat was held at the beginning of the Spring 2010 program. The model used during The Great Teachers Seminar was adapted for use with this group of men, who then helped us to finalize the topics that would make up their leadership experience throughout the remainder of the semester. A total of 60 men—30 African Americans/Blacks and 30 Hispanics/Latinos were accepted into the program. A little over half attend the retreat.
In smaller groups of four to six, the men meet once a week throughout the semester, which will allow the men to bond well with each other. They should begin to feel comfortable enough to share their experiences at ECC and in the community candidly with each other and their Team Leaders/Mentors. The information gathered will be combined by common themes and presented to the President, Vice President of Teaching, Learning & Student Development, and the entire Administrative Team. In addition, it will serve as the foundations for a pilot program that will run during Fall 2010.
At least one Team Leader/Mentor is assigned to each of these groups. We currently have four smaller groups of African Americans/Blacks and three smaller groups of Hispanics/Latinos.
In regards to the semester’s program, occasionally all 60 men will meet together. Also, guest speakers from within ECC and the community at large will be invited to speak to the young men about career choices and the importance of staying in college until earning a degree or completing their certificates. In conjunction with the local Chamber of Commerce, we have arranged for site visits as well. Another goal is to connect the MEN Inc. participants with middle school African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino boys by either bringing the young boys to campus and/or by visiting them at their schools. We are working with the Assistant Dean of College Readiness and School Partnerships to accomplish this goal.
The entire Leadership Program will end with a ceremony at which the MEN Inc. participants will make a commitment to serve as leaders both in the College and in the community at large. The men in the action research will determine exactly what this recognition ceremony will entail. At this first ceremony, we will provide details of the program to be piloted in the Fall that the young male students would have helped us to create.