CCBC’s Male Student Success Initiative Seeks to Improve Graduation Success Rates for Male Students of Color

MSSI was started in 2013 under a grant-funded iniatitive. After the grant ended and funding depleted, the program dwindled. Following the death of George Floyd, CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis renewed the college’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and shone a spotlight on MSSI. She declared the program a priorty, provided it with new leadership and dedicated $250,000 in funding to give the program a fresh start.

“CCBC is proud to breathe new life and new leadership into a much needed program,” said President Sandra Kurtinitis. “Investing in scholarships, staffing, mentoring, and wrap around supports for this important cadre of students significantly increases their confidence and self image as well as their chances for retention and completion.”

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More than 130 students are currently enrolled in MSSI with a campaign underway to enroll at least 100 more. The goal is to create a brotherhood of young men who are committed to unlocking the power of education, serious about professional development and focused on earning their associate degree and/or successfully transferring to a four-year institutuion.

Each student is paired with a dedicated success mentor and group that coincides with their academic major, with the expectation that they meet regularly throughout the sememster. Success mentors facilitate services including tutoring and academic support, supplemental instruction, financial aid, career workshops, and assistance in transferring to a four-year college. MSSI also partners with businesses such as Stanley Black and Decker to provide internships for students.

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In addition to academic support, the group schedules brotherhood and social engagement activities that allow students to bond. Weekly gatherings take place to communicate important information and dates, as well as provide space for students to share personal and academic success stories. The addition of a dedicated space allows them to engage with their peers and program staff in between classes and study sessions.

“MSSI is important because it firmly supports CCBC’s vision of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Sunni Solomon, MSSI program director. “Identifying and addressing the challenges that can often take our male students of color off track will play an important role in this process. If we can create a better support system and connect the college to our MSSI students on a more personal level I believe it will lead to to better academic outcomes.”

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