Building Pathways to Postsecondary Success for Low-Income Young Men of Color
Chapter Nine of the book, Changing Places: How Communities Will Improve the Health of Boys of Color, focuses on Building Pathways to Postsecondary Success for Low-Income Young Men of Color.
This chapter looks at strategies for connecting male high school dropouts of color between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four to pathways to postsecondary credentials that have value in the labor market. Many of the millions of young men of color who have dropped out of school have the talent, ability, and aspirations for a better future and can benefit from being connected to a supported pathway to postsecondary credentials. This tremendous pool of talent and potential, if properly supported and channeled, can help close the skills gap in the United States and greatly contribute to the nation’s productivity and competitiveness. Converting this raw talent into skilled workers with the credentials and mastery for the twenty-first-century economy will require considerable rethinking of how our secondary, postsecondary, workforce, adult education, youth development, and youth recovery systems work in tandem to build the supports and create the pathways at some scale to bring these youth back into the education and labor-market mainstream.
The chapter addresses why it is essential to invest in building postsecondary pathways for young men of color who are high school dropouts and highlights examples of innovations in policy, community intervention strategies, program delivery, pedagogy in basic skills, youth development and dropout recovery, and postsecondary education. While advocating for expanded adoption of these best practices, we also want to seed thinking about ways these policies and practices, if better integrated and funded, can bring about more robust and successful dropout recovery and postsecondary education to ensure that more male youth of color gain the skills and credentials necessary to open the door to higher wages and career opportunities.
The book chapter makes a clear and compelling case for the needs of young men of color, addressing the education and training challenges faced by young men of color through community intervention strategies. The resource would be appropriate for self-study for all adult educators interested in gaining a better understanding of the employment and education gaps experienced by young men of color. Most of the strategies suggested in the publication need a program or state-level response. In that context, it could be suggested reading by an adult education representative on a state or community task force or interagency group aimed at addressing the employment and education gaps experienced by young men of color. The background, statistics, and recommendations would also help state and program adult education leaders develop grant proposals designed to serve this population.
Limitations of this resource include the following: (1) because the resource, a book chapter, addresses several community stakeholders (and reorganizes its focus in several places), it does not identify adult education's role at each step. Some adult educators may not find enough information that is specifically organized for them as readers. In addition, (2) since the publication of the resource, students without a high school credential can no longer access federal financial aid dollars. This strategy undergirded some promising dual enrollment practices mentioned in the resource, such as I-BEST. Finally, (3) the authors propose social policy and specific intervention responses; however, the reader would need to consult additional resources if interested in comparing the author’s suggestions to others.