Improving High School Graduation Rates Among Males of Color


Often, the decision to drop out of school is almost inevitable due to things set in motion years prior. The economic cost of nongraduates among students of color is a significant part of the total dropout cost to the nation. And the personal and societal costs for nongraduates are equally significant.

“Without strong community engagement in dropout prevention, the people, media, and messages that dominate the consciousness of young males of color will be either neutral toward school success or detrimental to high school graduation.”

“Many students who drop out of school try to enter the job market, which is evidence that they want to work and be productive. A strong career development and career pathway focus in high school, with appropriate guidance and mentoring, can serve multiple purposes toward dropout prevention.”

“Schools, districts, and whole communities need to take a systemic approach to the problem of dropout for all students, and particularly young males of color. Improving graduation rates is one key step to building pathways to economic self-sufficiency for young men of color.”


  • Ensure that young males of color view school as a safe, respectful, and inviting learning environment. Engaging their families in their academic success also gives them an asset that is a powerful predictor of high school completion.
  • Institute dropout prevention strategies—such as changing the learning pace or setting, integrating service experience with instructional content, or educating teachers about at-risk student issues and interventions.
  • Increase career development earlier for young men of color, offer job training, and mobilize mentors to engage with them.