Editorial: Black Male Dropouts                                                                             
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Getting in the GAME
Philadelphia Inquirer March 7, 2008

There’s a lot at stake with a new program starting today that hopes to cut the dropout rate among Philadelphia’s young African American males and set their sights on college.

It’s poorly educated young men who too frequently end up in the city’s too-high counts of homicide victims and prison inmates.

Trying to help turn that around is GAME – "Getting African American Males Educated" – which is kicking off with a recruitment event hosted by the 76ers at the Wachovia Center. Participants will meet the team and take a photo with their favorite player.

More important, they can complete a single online application for admission into any of 34 historically black colleges, including Lincoln and Cheyney universities.

Sponsored in Philadelphia and 10 other cities by Atlanta-based EDU Inc., GAME has the potential to send 10,000 black males to college in the fall, says EDU president Robert Mason.

The program targets young men who may have less-than-stellar grades or SAT scores and are on the fence about college. They will get encouragement from mentors – black men from the community.

Mason launched the program last year with the Atlanta Hawks. He pointed out that nationally 12 percent of black males, ages 16 to 24, were dropouts, compared with 6 percent for white males. The high school dropout rate for black males was 53 percent in Philadelphia in 2005.

"It was obvious that something had to be done," said Mason.

The program is already getting results, he said. At least 90 percent of the young men who attended the GAME event in Atlanta were accepted to colleges.

Naran Butler-Houck, a social worker at Franklin High, says he’s recruiting young men for GAME "to heighten their expectation" of going to college. Dante Morgan, a Franklin senior, says he wants to go to college to show "black males are more than gangsters or rappers."

Before today’s game between the 76ers and Seattle SuperSonics, GAME participants will hear presentations from community leaders and meet their mentors. One student will be awarded a $500 scholarship from Sallie Mae.

The program may expand next year to include sophomores and juniors. Plans are to also target Latino students. This worthwhile effort deserves great support.

 


For more information about GAME visit www.eduinconline.com or call 770-716-0616.