XY-Zone Project Mentors Latino Male High School Students

Latino males are far less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college than their Latina counterparts. According to an analysis of 2011 Census survey data by Richard Fry of the Pew Hispanic Center, about 17 percent of Hispanic females ages 25 to 29 have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with about 10 percent of Hispanic males.

One program trying to address this disparity is the XY-Zone Project, an effort of Communities in Schools of Central Texas. Half of the participants are Latino, and 41 percent are black. It serves 436 students in 10 Texas high schools.

Coordinators work with young men on 10 high school campuses in Texas who are at-risk of dropping out. The program’s core is focused on five key aspects: respect, responsibility, relationships, role modeling and reaching out.

The 2011-12 demographics of the young men in the program tell a rather consistent story: 98 percent have experienced some form of violence, 85 percent are economically disadvantaged, and 48 percent come from single-parent homes. In school, 16 percent are in special education and 15 percent are English language learners.

“The XY-Zone mission is to support and guide adolescent males as they journey into manhood,” said Robert Bachicha, the program’s Coordinator.

Bachicha said the outcomes for the young men in the program have been positive: 89 percent improved or maintained their grades, attendance or behavior and 97 percent stayed in school. The students perform volunteer work. Parents are also engaged through newsletters, phone calls and frequent home visits.

“Students who have participated are significantly more likely to believe ‘My life has purpose’ after completing the program,” Bachicha said.

XY-Zone mostly relies on family support and corporate foundation funding, with some federal money. He said the program was developed by looking at existing program models. They included service learning, Native American rites of passage, and the Fraternal Brotherhood model.

Bachicha spoke on Wednesday as part of a webinar focused on young men of color by the College Board’s Advocacy Arm. The board has a Young Men of Color Initiative. According to the College Board, in 2008, about 33.4 percent of Hispanic male high school graduates aged 15 to 24 were enrolled in postsecondary education.

Related links:


– “The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color” College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. 

– “XY-Zone: Preparing Boys to Become Men.” 

– Project MALES. The University of Texas at Austin.