FMU Black College Male Explorers pose during a community service commitment.

FMU Black College Male Explorers pose during a community service commitment.

*A recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed that black girls are more likely to graduate from college with six years than their male counterparts.

These developments contribute to the what the Council of the Great City Schools among other entities have depicted as the “black male achievement gap.”  Florida Memorial University, the only historically black college in South Florida, has been leading the charge to reverse this trend with its Black Male College Explorers Program (BMCEP), a pre-collegiate outreach and educational support program.

“The aspirational value of early college exposure cannot be overstated.  The reality is that many students of color are still first generation college students – the number is nearly 70% on our campus alone.  These students do not come from college educated families that are equipped to assist them with the complicated journey to our through college,” said FMU president Roslyn Artis  “Students need to be educated about the academic expectations early so that they can make intelligent decisions about high school coursework and prerequisites.”

FMU continues to build a community for academic success among high-risk male students of color with their BMCEP program. Geared toward black males from grades 7 to 12, the program challenges the students to answer the call to make meaningful changes and help them understand that they can achieve beyond what is often thought or asked of them. Explorers receive tools to improve their quality of life, graduate from high school, facilitate college admissions, and increase their chances to obtain a college degree.  High school and college professors are hired to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects which are an educational priority for the program. It also gives pre-college participants the opportunity to stay on campus.

“Each program participant is experiencing collegiate exposure and experiences while matriculating on FMU’s campus during the residential component of the program.”  stated Shawn M. Davis, BMCEP director. “Every black male is surpassing the norm in spite of their adversities; it is truly a blessing to see such a transition in the lives of the youth we serve.”

The summer residential component of BMCEP allows program participants to reside on the campus of Florida Memorial University. The residential component gives students collegiate exposure and experiences beyond their scope. The program has a 100 percent graduation rate.  All of the students have graduated from high school and gone on to a post-secondary education, joined the armed forces or obtained employment.  These results affirm the program’s effectiveness.

“As a junior in high school, the biggest benefit of BMCEP is the college experience. We are living on the dorms and experiencing the life of a college student,” said program participant, Farrell Mays. “This program allows us to look forward and prepare us for college in the future. We are attending classes with professors and earning credit. The credits are applied to our high school transcript which improves our GPA. There several counselors there who become like your big brothers throughout the year.”

Due to budget cuts, the BMCEP was experiencing financial constraints; however generous donations from CareerSource of South Florida, The Batchelor Foundation, AT&T and TD Bank helped the program continue to provide services to young people. like concentrated developmental experiences, weekly seminars, workshops and motivational trips.

“The return on investment is clear.  Students who are exposed to college early on, enter college better prepared, academically, socially and emotionally,” President Artis added. “They have taken appropriate coursework  and therefore, are able to bypass costly remedial education.  The students have stronger study skills and a grasp on their own learning styles. ”

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Zach Rinkins, host and producer, The Rinkins Report

Zach Rinkins, host and producer, The Rinkins Report

Zach Rinkins is the Associated Press award-winning host/producer of the Rinkins Report. Find out more on Twitter @ZachRinkins and Facebook @ZachRinkins