Increasing the number of Latinos earning bachelor’s degrees is a pressing national issue. But within the group, it is Hispanic men who are the least likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and graduate from college.
A group based at the University of Texas at Austin called Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) is trying to bring attention to the plight of these young men.
A new policy brief on the topic written by two of the group’s co-directors, education professors Victor Sáenz of the University of Texas and Luis Ponjuan of the University of Florida, was released recently by Perspectivas, Issues in Higher Education Policy and Practice.
The brief notes that in 2010, among 18 to 24-year-old Latino males, about 34.2 percent of Latino males had not completed high school or earned GEDs, compared with 27.1 percent of Latina females. According to 2010 Census data cited in the brief, about 38.4 percent of Latinos earning bachelor’s or associate degrees in 2009 were men.
The researchers say that Hispanic males are in a state of crisis. They outline a number of reasons that men are lagging, gathered in part from interviews conducted in Texas and Florida of Latino male college students, high school, and college administrators and faculty members.
They found that male students’ perceptions of their masculinity makes them reluctant to ask for help or take advantage of services intended to help them become successful. In addition, high schools, colleges, and faculty are not discussing or even aware of the fact that Latino male students in particular are falling behind, according to the research.
They mention several programs that are making a difference with young men:
Fathers Active in Communities and Education: The program in South Texas partners with school districts, higher education, and businesses to create programming including activities, college tours, and family events;
Encuentros Leadership: Based in Northern San Diego County, the program holds a summer leadership academy and career and education conference for Hispanic male students. The group also created a textbook intended to help male students;
XY-Zone: This Communities in Schools programs with sites all over the country works with male students to work through challenges including academics and relationships;
Puente Project: The California-based project works to help students enroll in college and then return to their communities to mentor young people.
You could easily localize this story, and also see if there are any gender-specific initiatives geared at helping young men in your community.