Program Aims to Increase African-American Men Studying Education

Posted on 12/13/2011 5:10:19 PM

The Heinz Endowments of Pittsburgh has awarded IUP a grant of $361,500 for a program designed to increase the number of African-American men in teacher preparation programs in colleges and universities.

California University of Pennsylvania, the Community College of Allegheny County, Point Park University, and IUP have formed a consortium to recruit African American males into the teaching profession.

The grant proposal was authored by Robert Millward, a professor in the Professional Studies in Education Department. The program will span three years.

“IUP has a strong existing partnership with the Pittsburgh Public Schools,” Keith Dils, interim dean of the College of Education and Educational Technology, said, citing as examples the establishment of two professional development schools, membership on the executive board of the School District University Collaborative, the establishment of Future Educators of America clubs at three Pittsburgh high schools, the Community College of Allegheny County Urban Program, the Three-Student Urban Project, and the Promise Plus.

“This project will add another valuable piece to the work that IUP is doing in educating our nation’s future teachers.”

Millward will work with a consortium of public schools, community agencies, and colleges of education to increase the number of African-American males in colleges of education.

Currently, African-American men make up about 1 percent of the population of colleges of education and 1 percent of the 3 million teachers in the nation’s schools, according to Millward. The program’s goal is to increase the population in colleges of education to 5 percent and ultimately increase the number of African-American male teachers in the region to 5 percent.

“We have several objectives to accomplish to reach this goal, including starting at the middle- and high-school level and involving the entire community, and to mentor students while in college to help them succeed,” Millward said.

“In addition to actively working to recruit students into teacher education programs from the Pittsburgh region, we will focus on the enormous importance of having educational role models who inspire students to want to become future teachers.”

The consortium currently includes representatives from IUP, Oliver High School, Point Park University, Woodland Hills, Gateway School District, Wilkinsburg School District, the Community College of Allegheny County, and California University of Pennsylvania. Community representatives will be added to the consortium during the first year of the project, and the number of school districts will be expanded during the three years of the grant.

During the first year, Millward and the consortium members will establish an organizational structure that can be sustained through the next decade. The group plans to employ a number of methods to reach qualified African-American males and help them succeed in education over the next three years:

  • Use social media and other technology to reach students at the middle- and high-school level
  • Provide a one-day summer seminar for teachers and counselors to make them aware of the need to encourage African-American students to become teachers
  • Establish a strong working relationship with community and regional colleges. “The Community College of Allegheny County will be a very important link to attracting African-American men, considering that 30 to 50 percent of CCAC’s enrollment consists of minority students, and 20 percent of our current teachers got their start in a community college,” Millward said.
  • Provide seminars for college recruiters and faculty members to help recruit qualified African-American males specifically for colleges of education
  • Form some type of cohort mentoring groups that include gender balance, racial diversity, and geographic identity to offer support to students in the cohort. These groups could become ambassador groups for recruiting additional African-American students into colleges of education. Students in the program will participate in seminars designed to enhance their teaching and leadership skills. “After their second year of college, they will be invited to attend a two-day leadership workshop at Gettysburg, an established program that illustrates how good and bad leadership decisions impacted the Battle of Gettysburg,” Millward said. “In many cases, what good leaders do and don’t do are universal truths.”
  • Create community mentoring programs. “One of the most life-altering challenges facing school-age African-American males today is whether to stay in school or to drop out,” Millward said, adding that current dropout rates among African-American students often range from 25 to 50 percent. He cited Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh as having a successful youth mentoring program that could serve as a model for this project.

The program would also be evaluated yearly.

IUP is in the third year of the Promise Plus initiative, funded by grants totaling $460,000 from the Heinz Endowments. This program increases the impact of the Pittsburgh Promise, designed to help all students in Pittsburgh Public Schools plan, prepare, and pay for education beyond high school at an accredited post-secondary institution within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

IUP also has two federal TRIO programs—Upward Bound Math-Science and the McNair Scholars program—designed to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as the R. Benjamin Wiley Partnership Program for Urban High School Students, dual-enrollment agreements with regional school districts, and the Punxsutawney Summer Opportunity Program.

The Pittsburgh Promise was created by the Pittsburgh Foundation and is supported by other regional philanthropies, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and community agencies.

The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.