Communique from the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
The discouraging trend of young men of color dropping out of high schools and not progressing on to colleges has become a crisis that requires urgent intervention, and DePaul is stepping up to do its part.
The university is compelled to reverse this trend, and has just launched a Men of Color Initiative. We’ve hired Eric Mata, a former social justice education specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to head this critical initiative that is designed to help DePaul’s male students better navigate their educational experience and achieve higher graduation rates. If you would like to be part of this initiative, please give Eric a call at Ext. 5-2855.
At DePaul, we’re not only interested in enrolling students. They need to graduate and begin their careers with the foundation that only a bachelor’s degree can give them. With that credential under their belts, they will have the confidence to succeed, the salary to support their families and the desire for lifelong learning that may result in an MBA, law degree or another graduate pursuit in a few years.
But the first step is getting African-American and Latino males through college. DePaul’s new Men of Color initiative will focus on social and leadership development and academic and career development. Peer mentoring will be at the heart of the program, with our upperclassmen mentoring new students. A special orientation and summer programming will be among the steps Eric will employ to keep these students in school.
And that’s not all DePaul is doing to address the situation. We’ve been active partners with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to encourage and support African-American and Latino males graduate from high school and consider college.
Each year, DePaul hosts a conference for the public schools' Male Initiative Project (MIP), featuring workshops and presentations on student and community development. The next one will take place next month, on Feb. 6, when DePaul faculty and staff will conduct sessions on our Lincoln Park Campus and give CPS students a taste of what life is like on a college campus. They may never have envisioned themselves in this setting, but this experience could be life-changing for them.
MIP focuses on male mentoring through a year-long curriculum that addresses not only academics and careers, but masculinity and cultural exploration. The program was created by a grassroots organization composed of CPS counselors, teachers and administrators in response to a May 2006 report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research highlighting the low percentages of African-American and Latino males graduating from Chicago's schools.
DePaul’s emphasis on mentoring will extend to this CPS program as well. Our undergraduates will mentor the high school students who participate in this program. The potential for positive outcomes are unlimited.