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CCBC’s Male Student of Color Initiative Awarded $75,000 Takeoff Grant

Community College of Baltimore County received a $75,000 grant from Takeoff

Community College of Baltimore County received a $75,000 grant from Takeoff: Institutional Innovations for College Men of Color, a project led by the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center. In partnership with the Honors Program, MSSI will use this grant to increase retention, completion and transfer success for high achieving male students of color at CCBC.

The ECMC Foundation provided the USC Race and Equity Center $1.8 million – as part of their $20 million Men of Color Initiative – to launch the Takeoff project. Takeoff provides capital and technical support to community colleges nationwide that are dedicated to improving degree completion at all levels of post-secondary education for men of color.

As 1 of 15 awardees, this grant supports MSSI in its efforts to expand access to Honors education through engagement strategies that support students’ academic careers and socio-economic health. The success rate among CCBC Honors students is much greater than that of the general student population. However, many high achieving Black and Latino male students do not experience the benefits of Honors courses due to implicit bias rationales that impede upon a culture of belonging.

“Within higher education, closing the achievement gap is the conversation most associated with our male students of color,” said MSSI Program Director Sunni Solomon. “While that conversation is important, we also have male students of color who thrive academically, and that message is getting lost. Imagine what that does to their psyche. They don’t see themselves as high achievers because the loudest narrative is they are not. We want to change that narrative reinforcing that they are capable and qualified to participate in Honors courses and create an environment within Honors which makes them feel welcomed.”

MSSI will work with a cadre of faculty, staff and students across departments to engage in intentional recruitment efforts that better serve our higher achieving men of color, specifically targeting Black and Latino males. Through the establishment of formal and informal contextualized cultural spaces, devoid of campus hierarchy, MSSI and the Honors Program hopes to create inclusive, safe spaces for students.

Currently, Black and Latino male students account for approximately 45% of the male student population at CCBC but only 6.9% of the Honors Program student population. With this grant, MSSI hopes to grow that number to at least 15%.

“We’re being very intentional with the recruitment of our male students of color because we want to make sure that the college’s demographic landscape is also reflected within our Honors Program,” said Adrianne Washington, dean of Special Academic Programs.

“This grant will allow us to create academic courses, establish standard research experiences and reimagine Honors spaces keeping diversity and inclusion top of mind. We are fully vested in the success of this student population.”

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