Research & Evaluation

A Model for Creating Academic Counter-Spaces for Black Women at HWIs 

The racist and sexist structural inequality that Black women experience in academia renders them virtually invisible on college campuses. Research shows that Black students at Historically White Institutions (HWIs) are confronted with unique challenges and stress when integrating into college life. Black women in particular, are among the most vulnerable to psychological, social, and academic maladjustment. The experiences of Black women at UCLA illustrate such trends. Black women at UCLA report the lowest sense of belonging of any racial-ethnic group. They feel the most unsafe on campus, and have the highest rate of sexual harassment. In response to the unique needs of Black women at UCLA, a team of experts on the academic and social-emotional wellness of Black women and girls collaborated to develop the undergraduate course Sister to Sister. Since Spring 2014, Sister to Sister has served as an academic counter-space centering the voices and perspectives of Black women. The purpose of this brief is to highlight the psychosocial experiences of Black women at an HWI, and present key components of a successful academic counter-space.

Read our brief: A Model for Creating Academic Counter-Spaces for Black Women at HWIs

Young, Black, & Houseless: An Analysis of LA County Black Homeless Student Population

This brief analyzes Los Angeles County's student homeless data from the California Department of Education. The analysis found that one-third of all Black students experiencing homelessness in California are attending public schools in LA County. The number of Black homeless students has increased by more than 40% since the 2014–15 school year. In LA County, Black students are the only racial/ethnic group that disproportionately experiences homelessness.

Read our brief  Young, Black, & Houseless: An Analysis of LA County Black Homeless Student Population

The Counter Narrative Report:

“While the failures of young men of color are well documented, too little attention has been paid to their success and achievements,” says UCLA Professor Tyrone Howard. “The Counter Narrative Project aims to change that. This report highlights young men who are the products of high expectations and shines a spotlight on resilient, intelligent, and caring young Black and Latino men across Los Angeles County. Our research reveals their humanity and makes clear their leadership and success in the classroom and in their communities.”

Read our The Counter Narrative: Reframing Success of High Achieving Black and Latino Males in Los Angeles County

BLOOM:

In May 2012, the California Community Foundation (CCF) launched a five-Year initiative focused on serving Black male youth involved in the juvenile delinquency system.  The Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men (BLOOM) Initiative was designed with the goal of redirecting Black male youth, ages 14-18-years-old involved with the Los Angeles County probation system, toward improved educational and employment opportunities and outcomes.  In collaboration with CCF and several community-based organizations, the UCLA Black Male Institute evaluated and documented the progress made toward serving probation-involved Black male youth in South Los Angeles during the first three years of the Initiative (2012-2015).

Year 3 Highlights:

In the third year of the initiative, nearly 400 young men were enrolled in BLOOM, an aggregate increase of 222 BLOOM youth participants between year(s) one and three.  Further, a majority of BLOOM youth remain active participants of the community partner programming, nearly 84% remained enrolled in school, and 82% of BLOOM youth did not re-offend in the third year of the Initiative. Overall, the Initiative has made effective gains in model development in the first three years of the program.  While the year 3 report specifically documents the progress of BLOOM youth participants’ educational attainment, employment, and recidivism rate, it is important to note the success of the Initiative in collaborating with community-based efforts to develop a conversation around the complexities of serving probation-involved youth.

Read our Year Three Evaluation Report

Freedom Schools:

In the 1960’s, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools started as part of a nationwide effort to assist African Americans in achieving social, political, and economic equality in the United States.  Originating  in the South, college-­age youth operated Freedom Schools to provide an alternative to the state’s underfunded and segregated school system.  Half a century later,  CDF Freedom Schools continue to aid students through summer and after-school programs; and remain an important topic of discussion.  

With support from Supervisor Mark Ridley­‐Thomas’ office, the UCLA Black Male Institute (BMI), along with Vital Research, are engaging in research on the impact that CDF Freedom Schools are having on literacy development and civic engagement of South Los Angeles Youth.  The BMI conducts the qualitative aspect of the research for the evaluation of the Freedom Schools project.  Focus groups are conducted at each site to provide an in-depth, firsthand account of how participants at the sites are experiencing the Freedom Schools program. Focus group questions are designed to engage the participants in critical thought on their experiences during program.

Read Children Defense Fund Freedom Schools Evaluation Report

 

Gateway-to-Graduation (Research):

In 2010, the BMI offered an undergraduate research course (Project Lumina) in which the students examined Black male retention at UCLA.  As a part of the research project, the undergraduate participants recommended that BMI create a course introducing first year Black male undergraduates to key campus resources early in their college experience, as a strategy to ensure successful navigation of the UCLA campus.  Blacklimated launched in 2011, to support first-year Black male freshman and transfer students.  And Sister-to-Sister was introduced in 2014, to support Black female undergraduates throughout their college experience and beyond.  Below is a selected list of class topics:

In 2010, the BMI offered an undergraduate research course (Project Lumina) in which the students examined Black male retention at UCLA.  As a part of the research project, the undergraduate participants recommended that BMI create a course introducing first year Black male undergraduates to key campus resources early in their college experience, as a strategy to ensure successful navigation of the UCLA campus.  Blacklimated launched in 2011, to support first-year Black male freshman and transfer students.  And Sister-to-Sister was introduced in 2014, to support Black female undergraduates throughout their college experience and beyond.  Below is a selected list of class topics:

Sister-to-Sister

  • Identity among Black Women
  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • Building Community among Black Women
  • Sexual Assault in the lives of Black Women

Blacklimated

  • Introduction to Research
  • Mental Health/Stress Support
  • Strategies for Academic Success
  • Building Community among Black Men

Both courses have experienced tremendous success, serving nearly 300 undergraduate students since 2011.  To date, in the Blacklimated course, 96% of Black males who completed the course during their first year on the UCLA campus, have been retained.  The Gateway-to-Graduation project is the BMI’s formal research project in which we are examining what role, if any, does Sister-to-Sister and/or Blacklimated play in the retention, persistence, and graduation rates of Black undergraduate students at UCLA.

 

Saving Our Sons Project:

Saving Our Sons was a two-year research project that examined the impact that all male learning spaces have on the academic and behavioral outcomes of African American males at three different high school sites in Los Angeles County.  The study sought to examine the organizational structures of these spaces, and the pedagogical practices used by the teachers who led them.  The first article “Does the Negro still need separate schools: Single-sex educational settings as critical race counterspaces” expounds upon this research.  This article explores whether contemporary educators should consider single-sex educational settings as viable interventions in educating African American males. Using qualitative data from the study, the authors argue that when all-male spaces effectively function as Critical Race Theory counterspaces, the educational experiences of high school–aged Black males are positively transformed. These cocurricular, single-sex counterspaces can effectively shield Black males from the marginalizing effects of urban schooling while serving as platforms for productive reengagement in positive school trajectories. Research-based principles for designing effective single-sex educational settings are discussed.

Read Does a "Negro" Still Need  A Separate School? Single Sex Educational Settings as Critical Race Counterspaces