Statistics paint a bleak future for inner city young men. The systemic failure of the public education system, extreme poverty and the school dropout to prison pipeline are robbing our nation’s young men of their true promise. Without a defined pathway to academic and economic well-being, inner city young men are struggling to achieve.
Young men of color have the lowest high school graduation rates nationwide. According to a 2012 report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, only 52% of African American males in the US graduate from high school; 58% of Latino males graduate. Census data shows that 18% of Black men and 13% of Latino men age 25+ have college degrees versus 54% for Asian American men and 35% for White men.
The traditional education strategies fail to engage our nation’s urban young men. In New York City, only 25% of Black males graduate with a Regents diploma, a crucial college readiness indicator.
Black males are four times more likely to be expelled or suspended than their white counterparts. They are twice as likely to be shunted into special education classes, and nearly three times less likely to be enrolled in gifted or talented programs. In the neighborhoods where Eagle Academies are located, African-American boys are more likely to have repeated one or more grade levels, or entered middle school performing below grade level in math and reading.
Traditional education also fails to consider the socio-emotional factors that negatively impact academic achievement, such as the stresses of poverty, gangs, and a lack of active fathers and role models. Public schools in high poverty neighborhoods are more likely to have inexperienced teachers, large classes, inferior facilities, and lack the resources for art, music, drama or athletics.
Inner city boys are growing up in communities with an absence of positive male role models. They are more likely to be raised in a single parent household, headed by a mother or a grandmother, without the support and guidance of a traditional family structure.
The Eagle Academy Foundation was formed to combat these challenges, with the belief that young inner city men could attain high levels of academic success and strong moral character if provided with quality educational resources designed to engage young men and social support beyond the traditional school day. Today, Eagle Academy students stand as a testimony to the success of this innovative model. In the words of a recent Eagle Academy graduate, “Eagle Academy taught me to take responsibility and carve out a path to make my own success possible.”
“We must enact an all-hands-on-deck approach to educating young men of color, linking teachers, parents, principals, community leaders, and providing quality in- and out-of school experiences.”
– David C. Banks, President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation