Sessions Descriptions


Welcome and Why the High School Years Matter

The opening session will explain the importance of working with our nation's 1.7 million young Black men ages 14–18 as they prepare for postsecondary education and careers. Michael Nettles and Marian Wright Edelman will give opening remarks to set the context for the importance of working with this age group for their respective organizations as well as for the nation.

Lived Experiences: Young Black Male Leaders Set the Stage

Who are better experts on the Black male high school experience than young Black male leaders? Four young men will discuss the key opportunities and obstacles they experienced in moving to success in their high school years.

Providing a Rigorous High-Quality Curriculum and Instruction for College and Career Readiness

For more than 30 years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), our nation's report card, has found persistent Black/White achievement gaps in reading and mathematics for students who are 9-years and 13-years old. One possible consequence of this achievement gap may be the lack of opportunities for many high school Black males to participate in a rigorous curriculum. Fewer than one-third (30.4 percent) of Black male students meet minimum preparation curriculum requirements for high school and a little over one percent (1.1 percent) of Black male students meet advanced preparation curriculum requirements. Most Black males confront several obstacles as they navigate the curriculum — low mastery of prior curriculum, limited curriculum options at their high school, poorly trained teachers, and low expectations for their academic success. This session will provide a holistic understanding of what is required to ensure that high school provides a fertile staging ground for college success or career readiness.

Establishing Safe, Positive, Supportive, and Welcoming School Environments

Before the learning can begin, students need to attend high school and participate in a positive manner. This panel session will examine the culture of low expectations in high schools for Black male students. What are the historical attendance trends for Black males in high school?  What led to the evolution and effects of Zero Tolerance Policies and what are promising alternatives? How can schools provide the support services that Black males need? How can schools create safe environments for Black males, especially in areas with high levels of community violence? How can schools best engage parents? The panel will discuss best practices for creating supportive and positive school environments for Black males.

Building Skills and Capital for College and Career Success

College and career success depend on more than academic success. Black males from families where college is not the norm may need additional support and assistance to successfully apply to college. Also Black males from disadvantaged families may not have the enrichment opportunities that students from more advantaged backgrounds do. This session will explore promising practices for supporting Black males outside of the classroom to apply to college and gain valuable skills and experiences for career readiness.

Moving to Success

This advocacy session will feature a wrap-up and summary of the day, highlighting the key take-home points, policies and practitioner recommendations and strategies to help Black male teens move to success. The young men from the opening panel will share their thoughts with Marian Wright Edelman.