Blog Entry Education, Youth Development

Milwaukee Schools Shine a Light on Its Young Men of Color

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) is committed to the education, well-being and overall success of all of its students and addressing the opportunity gap that exists for young people of color.

Black and Latino male students in Milwaukee experience worse educational outcomes than other groups. In the 2015-2016 school year, four-year graduation rates for Black and Latino males were 49.1% and 57.1%, respectively, where the overall graduation rate was at 59.7%. These numbers also stand out as being lower than Black and Latino male achievement in the state overall; in Wisconsin, the graduation rate for Black males was 58.7% and 77.4% for Latino males.

"When we examine student achievement data for all of our students, our Black and Latino male students are consistently below their peers. This is simply unacceptable, we can and will do better," says Dr. Darienne Driver, MPS Superintendent. "We believe that it is critical to improve outcomes for all our young people. Focusing specifically on Black and Latino male achievement will benefit all students in our district."

With support and partnership by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) as part of its Promise of Place strategy, MPS launched the new Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement in August 2017 to focus on these young men and boys and intentionally prioritize their success.

The Department has four goal areas: 

  1. To align existing efforts that support Black and Latino males in the district
  2. To establish manhood Development classes that offer a safe space for Black and Latino boys and young men to explore their identity and history
  3. To develop effective strategies that improve life and education outcomes for these young men and boys based on the data and;
  4. To change the harmful narratives that currently exist about Black and Latino males in Milwaukee.

CBMA has been partnering with MPS since early 2017, helping identify best practices and lessons learned from school districts in other parts of the country that have adopted a similar targeted focus on young men of color to improve their life and education outcomes. CBMA is committed to continuing our support of the new Department through a strong and sustained partnership. 

Milwaukee is one of five Promise of Place cities where the Campaign is working closely with city, district and community leaders to ensure the city and the schools carry out proven strategies to boost outcomes for young men of color including Black and Latino males.

The Promise of Place strategy guides CBMA to work and build with partners in these communities to improve understanding of the work that is being done on the ground, including the many needs and challenges, as well as areas of promise.

“CBMA was an instrumental partner in developing the new Department,” says LaNelle Ramey, Director, MPS Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement. “When embarking on something new, you have the sense that you don’t know what you don’t know. CBMA helped us know what we needed to know to improve the life and education outcomes of our young people. Most importantly, they’ve helped us work across silos—with a range of city departments and community organizations and across cities and regions in the U.S committed to the same vision for our boys and young men of color.”

In October, city and community leaders from around the nation including Milwaukee came together for a Promise of Place convening in Louisville, KY to identify concrete strategies that will improve the daily lives of young men of color, with a focus on young Black men and boys.

The convening took place as CBMA gets ready to release a new report in early 2018 about cities leading the way to improve the lives of young Black men and boys, even as national support weakens. The report will assess cities’ progress and lift up promising areas of policy and practice that can be expanded and deepened.

Stay tuned for the new Promise of Place report and learn more about the great work happening in Milwaukee to boost outcomes for Black and Latino males.

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