Brief: Boosting College Success Among Men of Color: Promising Practices & Next Steps --MDRC

Link to brief:

This brief catalogues strategies commonly used in interventions at postsecondary educational institutions aimed at improving outcomes for male students of color and charts the way forward for future evaluative work. While young men of color have college and career aspirations similar to those of their white counterparts, a significant gap persists between the two groups’ postsecondary educational attainment. In response, colleges around the country have implemented targeted programs offering male students of color a variety of support services, yet few of these initiatives have been evaluated. MDRC has conducted a scan of 82 such programs and will apply lessons from it and other research to a large-scale evaluation of program efficacy that it is currently developing in collaboration with the University System of Georgia. The need for evidence-based approaches that support men of color throughout the educational pipeline is evident, especially at the postsecondary level, where so many of male students of color are close to reaching their goals and fulfilling their potential as college graduates.


Thank you so much for posting this report, Edmund.  This sounds like a great start and next steps in the investigation.  The strategy that caught my eye was leadership training, since I rarely see it discussed.  From the brief:

Leadership training encompasses opportunities for students to demonstrate leadership in planning events and activities, community service, and managing or coordinating group meetings.   I'm wondering if members of our community provide leadership training in their adult education or transition program.  And, if you do, would you say a bit more about what happens?   Cynthia Zafft Postsecondary Completion Moderator

Thank you for your response! I don't work in a space where I work with leadership programs. There are, of course, a number of student leadership programs in two and four year contexts, but none that I am aware of that specifically focus on adult ed and transition programs. Much like you I would be interested in learning about leadership training in adult education and transition programs, particularly as we consider how students from various backgrounds and entry points are being supported.

VALUEUSA, the non-profit national association of adult learners, offers leadership training to adult education programs, as well as to individual adult learners through its biannual Leadership Institute (the next one is this coming April in Washington, DC).. In 2014 VAUEUSA commissioned an evaluation of adult learner leadership. The evaluation, generously sponsored by Dollar General Literacy Foundation, won the National Coalition for Literacy's Adult Literacy Leadership award for VALUEUSA and Research Allies for Lifelong learning, who conducted the data collection and analysis. This two-year study worked with 21 programs across the USA, to compare outcomes of adult learners who received leadership training with those of adult learners who did not. First- and second-year findings are on VALUEUSA's website at: Adult learners who participated in leadership projects worked on collaboration, organization, and planning. Their projects included raising awareness, fundraising, and communications, and each project was unique and customized to the needs of the adult education program. Learner leaders wrote about what they gained from their projects and what they contributed to them. Adult learners reported increased respect for others' ideas, finding their own voice, and gains in skills and confidence. The next summary of findings from learners' experiences, is scheduled to be posted next week on the same webpage. Readers who are interested in leadership training are invited to contact Marty Finsterbusch, Executive Director of VALUEUSA, through the organization's website or at

We so often think of student support services and opportunities through the lens of a traditional, full time time student. It is important that we think of how to best support student populations from diverse backgrounds and points of entry. I'm sure you have provided an invaluable resource to others! thank you.