CSU Campuses Develop Innovative Approaches to Support Students of Color

Last year, Cal State campuses were presented with concerning data highlighting the widening gaps in graduation rates between students of color and their white counterparts. Rather than narrowing, the graduation equity disparities between Black, Latino, and Native or Indigenous students have shown an increasing trend.

Despite the challenges, certain campuses are now directing additional funding and implementing fresh approaches to specifically address the needs of students of color, aiming to enhance graduation, persistence, and retention rates.

The CSU’s Young Males of Color Consortium, based at Cal State Dominguez Hills, has secured $3.2 million from organizations like Ballmer Group, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, and Ichigo Foundation. This funding is earmarked for the creation of new programs to support men of color across Cal State campuses. Sixteen CSU campuses and their neighboring community colleges will launch these initiatives, with the objective of enhancing transfer, retention, and graduation rates for approximately 800 students. Partnered universities and colleges will initially engage with up to 40 young men each to pilot the innovative strategies.

Established in 2017, the consortium aims to foster collaboration among campuses to exchange information, analyze data, and develop solutions to support Black and brown men within the CSU system.

Grappling with the critical issue of “institutional complacency,” the consortium determined that addressing the lack of accurate data on students of color was paramount. William Franklin, vice president of student affairs at Cal State Dominguez Hills campus, emphasized the necessity to recruit dedicated personnel, provide comprehensive training, enhance collaboration with the institutional research office, and optimize the utilization of existing resources in supporting male students of color.

During the recent CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 event, updated statistics highlighted a 13% gap in graduation rates between Black, Latino, and Native American students compared to their peers, marking a 1% increase. For instance, the six-year graduation rate for Black students stands at 47%, while the overall rate is 62%.

On the Dominguez Hills campus, the six-year graduation rates for Black and Latino men are notably lower, with figures of 36.4% for Black men and 38.9% for Latino men reported. Data for Native American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students is not currently available.

The campuses, bolstered by the new funding injection, will collaborate to evaluate educators and staff, offer professional development opportunities, and enhance cooperation with community college partners to streamline the transfer process for Black and brown students.

Members of the consortium have embarked on visits to successful institutions outside California, such as Georgia State University, Urban Prep Academies in Chicago, and the University of Texas at Austin, to glean insights on effective strategies for improving graduation rates among Black and Latino students.

Engaging with innovative programs and strategies, fueled by the allocated funding, the consortium is set on a path of rapid learning and adaptation to scale up successful initiatives.

Black Honors College

Sacramento State is pioneering a groundbreaking initiative to support not only Black students on its campuses but also the wider CSU system. This fall, the university will unveil the nation’s inaugural Black Honors College. With one of the largest Black student populations within the CSU system and relatively low graduation rates, Sac State is taking bold steps. The six-year graduation rate for all Black students currently hovers around 45%.

Sac State President Luke Wood underlined the urgent need for change, citing the institution’s historical underperformance in supporting Black students. Drawing inspiration from historically Black colleges and universities where graduation rates excel, Sac State seeks to establish a distinctive educational environment for Black student success.

The proposed Black Honors College will provide a unique academic experience with a dedicated curriculum focusing on African-American themes for the initial two years. Courses like political science and statistics will emphasize Black politics, issues, and community concerns.

Research advocating for a supportive and culturally relevant learning environment forms the cornerstone of this new venture. With 6,000 square feet of exclusive space and a specialized team comprising faculty, dean, counselors, academic advisors, and support staff, the college aims to pave the way for similar initiatives nationwide, despite opposition to diversity and inclusion efforts in other regions.

Anticipating the expansion of Black Honors Colleges and fostering partnerships with community colleges, Sac State is committed to nurturing a robust network of institutions focused on advancing Black student success.

Plans for significant growth are underway, with the goal of accommodating up to a thousand students in the future, reflecting the institution’s dedication to fostering academic excellence among Black students.

NOTE: EdSource receives funding from several foundations, including the College Futures Foundation and ECMC Foundation. EdSource maintains sole editorial control over the content of its coverage.

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