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NYC Black and Latino Males Shed Light on Schooling Success

High expectations from family members, a powerful motivation to transcend the impoverished circumstances of the communities they live in, and supportive teachers and other school staff members are among the myriad reasons why hundreds of black and Latino male students living in New York City said they have made it to college or are on track to do so after graduation, a new report concludes.

The report—the first to be released in a project known as the New York City Black and Latino Male High School Achievement Study—draws on face-to-face interviews with more than 400 students enrolled in, or recently graduated from, 40 high schools across the city. The interviews were conducted by a team of researchers—themselves black and Latino men—from the University of Pennsylvania's graduate school of education.

While it does not ignore the often grim outcomes for young male students of color—higher dropout rates and lower graduation rates, to name two—the study focuses explicitly on students who figured out how to succeed in school in spite of home and neighborhood circumstances that make doing so difficult. It delves into reasons why these young men say they were able to avoid gang recruitment, for example, and what motivated them to do well in school.

The study is the first in what is to be a series of reports on the Expanded Success Initiative, an effort by the New York City school system to increase the numbers of black and Latino males who graduate from high school and go on to college. That initiative is part of an even larger, citywide undertaking meant to wipe out disparities between black and Latino boys and men and their peers in the areas of education, criminal justice, health, and upward mobility.

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