Urban Strategies Council applauds the Oakland Unified School District’s recent announcement of plans to support the Unity Council’s Latino Men and Boys program at eight schools in the district. With support from multiple partners and local agencies, this unprecedented investment reflects a strong commitment to improving academic, social, and life outcomes for Latino males in Oakland public schools. We also want to thank and congratulate the Unity Council for its leadership in this effort and its participation in the Oakland-Alameda County Alliance for Boys and Men of Color (BMoC).
For the past three years, Unity Council’s Latino Men and Boys program has been an active member of the Oakland-Alameda County Alliance for BMoC; The Alliance is comprised of City and County public systems leaders and community-based partners and is focused on the implementation of an action agenda to improve outcomes for BMoC in Oakland and Alameda County. The Latino Men and Boys (LMB) program also has been a member of the Culturally-Focused Manhood Development Initiative, a learning community of school-based and community-based partners that provide culturally-focused mentoring, rites of passage, and academic skill development to build the resiliency and success of young males of color in Oakland.
With this expansion, the Latino Men and Boys program will serve 200 young men of color and their families with the goal of helping students overcome barriers to high school graduation. The program aims to improve students’ reading, math, and English language proficiency, while also engaging them through health education, career pathways, and cultural identity development. Most importantly, participants will work directly with a Latino role model, on campus and daily, to support their achievement.
The following are some accomplishments of the Latino Men and Boys Program based on unpublished evaluation data for 140 LMB participants through February 2015:
- Participants maintained an average of 97% school attendance (compared to a 95% district average).
- Cumulative usage of School Based Health Centers by participants across 8 sites increased 400%.
- Parent attendance in school-based parent engagement activities rose 200%.
- Participants’ average GPA increased 17% in 2013-2014.
- Participants’ recorded disciplinary incidents dropped 66%.
- 75% of eligible participating youth were placed in a job or paid internship.
As we think about what this investment and expansion means, it is important to view these successes in light of current outcomes experienced by Latino males in Oakland:
- Only 48% of Latino males in OUSD graduated with their class in 2013-14, down 6 percentage points since the previous year (Second Annual Oakland Achieves Progress Report, 2014).
- The 2013-14 cohort drop-out rate for Latino males in OUSD was 28% – the second highest among individual race/ethnicity groups of any sex and higher than the district-wide rate for males (26%). (California Department of Education, Data Reporting Office.)
- Less than half of Latino male graduates in 2013-14 (47%) completed high school having met course requirements necessary for admission to a UC or CSU campus (A-G), down from 51% in 2012-13 ( Second Annual Oakland Achieves Progress Report).
- Latino males had the second highest rate of chronic absence among male elementary students in 2012-13 (Oakland Reads 2020 Baseline Report, 2014).
These figures underscore the importance and promise of the announced expansion, especially when considering the size of OUSD’s Latino population. We are excited about this investment to improve outcomes for Latino males and the opportunity for the Latino Men and Boys program to scale their efforts and provide this valuable developmental experience to more young men in the community. We pledge our continued support.