National trends in African American male college attendance and completion paint a very clear picture: African American male youth need well-designed, focused supports in their efforts to complete high school, enter college, thrive once enrolled, and finish degree requirements.

National data indicate that:

  • Only 47% of African American male students graduated on time from U.S. high schools in 2008, compared to 78% of White male students (Schott Foundation for Public Education, 2010).
  • In 2002, African American men comprised only 4.3% of students enrolled at institutions of higher education, the exact same percentage as in 1976 (Harper, 2006; Strayhorn, 2010).
  • African American male students are often comparatively less prepared than are others for the rigors of college level academic work (Bonner & Bailey, 2006; Loury, 2004; Lundy-Wagner & Gasman, 2011; Palmer, Davis, & Hilton, 2009).
  • African American male college completion rates are lowest among both sexes and all racial/ethnic groups in U.S. higher education (Harper, 2006; Strayhorn, 2010).

Projects and programs focused on disrupting current trends of African American male high school completion, college enrollment, and college completion have tough choices to make. When committed to contributing to a solution to this complex set of problems, many questions emerge, such as:

  • Should we prepare middle school African American boys for the academic and social challenges of high school?
  • Should we support struggling African American high school male youth in their efforts to graduate?
  • Should we prepare college-aspiring African American male youth for the challenges they will encounter when faced with identifying and entering college?
  • Should we support and mentor African American males as they navigate their undergraduate experience through college graduation?
  • Since we are unable to address every issue, how do we strategize to prioritize our focus?

Most organizations concerned with these issues would like to execute programs that simultaneously respond to all of these needs, yet few have the capacity and resources to do so. In our efforts to respond to these pressing issues, yet do so responsibly, the Mu Lambda Foundation, Inc. is proposing a five-year strategic plan that, if executed, will create opportunities to positively impact rates of success of local African American male youth along their trajectory from positive academic and social experiences in middle and high school, high school graduation, college entrance, and college completion. When fully executed, our strategic plan will provide a full range of Academy experiences and activities for African American young men in grades 9 - 12.


Bonner II, F. A., & Bailey, K. W. (2006). Enhancing the academic climate for African American men. In M. J. Cuyjet (Ed.), African American men in college (pp. 24-46). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Harper, S. R. (2006). Black male students at public universities in the U.S.: Status, trends and implications for policy and practice. Washington, DC: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Loury, L. D. (2004). Siblings and gender differences in African-American college attendance. Economics of Education Review, 23(3), 213-219.

Lundy-Wagner, V., & Gasman, M. (2011). When gender issues are not just about women: Reconsidering male students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Teachers College Record, 113(5), 934-968.

Palmer, R. T., Davis, R. J., & Hilton, A. A. (2009). Exploring challenges that threaten to impede the academic success of academically underprepared African American male collegians at an HBCU. Journal of College Student Development, 50(4), 429-445.

Schott Foundation for Public Education (2010). Yes we can: The Schott 50 state report on public education and Black males. Cambridge, MA: Author.