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This Week in PubHub: Minorities and Higher Education

February 23, 2012

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at four reports that examine the role of racial/ethnic disparities in wealth, health, and educational attainment and how those factors are linked and reinforce one another.)

Diverging Pathways: How Wealth Shapes Opportunity for Children (16 pages, PDF), a report from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development included in my last post, cites 2007 data showing that 69 percent of Latino and 71 percent of African-American households are income-poor, while 40 percent (for both groups) are asset-poor. The report argues that without the financial resources to pay for high-quality early childhood education or college, children in these households face a future of limited opportunity. This week in PubHub, we're featuring four reports that focus on trends in college enrollment among students of color, as well as the role of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

According to Hispanic College Enrollment Spikes, Narrowing Gaps With Other Groups (30 pages, PDF), a report from the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of Latino students between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in two- or four-year colleges jumped 24 percent in 2010. That compares favorably with modest increases of 5.2 percent and 5.4 percent for African Americans and Asian Americans, and a decline of 4 percent (due in part to demographic trends) among white students. Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the report also found that 44 percent of Latino high school graduates attended college in 2010, accounting for 15 percent of all college students in that age group, and that while college enrollment among Latinos is up significantly in recent years, completion rates remain low, at 13 percent, among 25- to 29-year-olds.

Raising college completion rates among Latino students is the focus of Roadmap for Ensuring America's Future by Increasing Latino College Completion (20 pages, PDF), a report from Excelencia in Education. Given demographic trends, the report notes, Latinos will have to earn 5.5 million college degrees to close racial/ethnic gaps and meet the nation's degree attainment goal by 2020. To that end, the report's authors recommend that communities develop partnerships between school districts and institutions of higher education to improve college readiness and participation rates; that colleges guarantee need-based aid for qualified students; and that states track data on equity and success in degree attainment. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation for Education, the report calls on the federal government to support capacity-building efforts at established and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to strengthen educational quality as a way to boost degree attainment.

According to the reports, college enrollment among African Americans and Latinos reached record highs in 2010, with just over half of Latino undergraduates enrolled at HSIs. Indeed, Students Speak! -- Understanding the Value of HBCUs From Student Perspectives (39 pages, PDF), a report from the UNCF Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, notes that while HBCUs account for only 4 percent of all four-year institutions in the U.S., they graduate 21 percent of all African Americans with a bachelor's degree. According to the report, the decision to attend an HBCU is influenced by many factors, including the perception that they provide a welcoming, supportive environment and a measure of cultural empowerment. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the report suggests that students who feel connected to and supported by their institutions, both academically and socially, are more likely to stay in school, and that student-faculty interaction is a key factor in raising retention and graduation rates.

The Lumina Foundation for Education has been working with HBCUs, HSIs, tribal colleges and universities, and Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions to boost degree attainment. The Role of Minority-Serving Institutions in National College Completion Goals (9 pages, PDF), a report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, describes Lumina's MSI Models of Success program, which aims to build capacity for data collection and analysis, foster a collective advocacy voice on behalf of minority-serving institutions, strengthen policy and practice related to developmental education, and raise completion rates, especially among men of color.

How do you think we should be addressing racial/ethnic disparities in educational attainment? Do you know of any promising initiatives to raise retention rates among students of color at non-MSIs, or best practices for boosting college completion rates at the community level? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse more than two hundred and sixty reports on topics related to minorities.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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