Research News

Vanderbilt scholar’s research with black males expands to Pittsburgh

Gilman Whiting (Vanderbilt)

Two western Pennsylvania school systems will use a program developed at Vanderbilt University to encourage young black males to be successful in school and go on to college.

The Scholar Identity Institute held at Vanderbilt University and in collaboration with the 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee has been working with students in Metro Nashville Public Schools since 2006 to encourage good habits that lead to college attendance and graduation. Students meet for two-week summer sessions designed to motivate them to develop good study habits and plan for their futures.

This month, The Heinz Endowments announced $1.5 million in grants to be divided between the Woodland Hills School District and Propel Schools, both in Pittsburgh, to start programs based on the Vanderbilt model. Woodland Hills is a public school district, while Propel is a charter school system.

“The key is self-efficacy. It changes the way students, families, schools and communities view these students. It’s a wonderful achievement for the institute that a major foundation recognizes the model as a way to close the racial achievement gap,” said Gilman Whiting, assistant professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and human and organizational development, and creator of the Whiting Scholar Identity Model, the foundation of the core curriculum for the Scholar Identity Institute.

Goals of the grant are to:

  • Influence the creation of a culture of academic achievement by African American males in schools and communities.
  • Create opportunities for meaningful involvement by African American males in schools and communities.
  • Create partnerships between schools and communities that jointly promote a scholar identity for African American male youth.
  • Increase the number of African American males who enroll and graduate from college.
  • Increase the number of African American males who choose education as a career.

Since the mid-1980s, test results for blacks and Latinos, while improved, have largely failed to narrow the gulf with the scores of white peers.

Whiting and Donna Ford, professor of special education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, plan to travel to Pittsburgh to assist in implementing their program.