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My Brother’s Keeper? The Impact of Targeted Educational Supports

by Emily Penner; Thomas Dee

Oct 1, 2019

The My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Challenge developed by President Obama supports communities that promote civic initiatives designed to improve the educational and economic opportunities specifically for young men of color. In Oakland, California, the MBK educational initiative features the African American Male Achievement (AAMA) program. The AAMA focuses on regularly scheduled classes exclusively for Black, male students and taught by Black, male teachers who focus on social-emotional training, African-American history, culturally relevant pedagogy, and academic supports. In this study, we present quasi-experimental evidence on the dropout effects of the AAMA by leveraging its staggered scale-up across high schools in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). We find that AAMA availability led to a significant reduction in the number of Black males who dropped out as well as smaller reductions among Black females, particularly in 9th grade.

  • It is estimated that access to the AAMA in 9th and 10th grades increased the on-time high-school graduation rate of Black males by about 3 percentage points.
  • Between the graduating classes of 2010 and 2018, the state-calculated high-school graduation rate for Black males in OUSD increased from 46 to 69 percent.
  • Black males exceeded the contemporaneous districtwide improvement in OUSD’s high-school graduation rate by about 5 percentage points.