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Research Report

Increasing Retention Rates for Black and Latino Men

How the University of Tennessee Knoxville's Success Academy is retaining Black and Latino men

November 21, 2022 , By Alexa Silverman, Senior Director, Student Experience and Well-Being Research Kayla Laughton, Research Analyst Liz Rothenberg, PhD, Managing Director

Key Insights

Peer cohort programs are valuable for facilitating students’ sense of belonging. Many institutions have cohort programs, such as summer bridge programs, where students attend workshops and sessions as a group, but they rarely extend beyond the summer of a student’s first year. These short-term programs, even when specially designed for Black and Latino men, do not provide sufficient opportunities to find spaces where they are not the only Black or Latino man in the room.

Black and Latino men who participate in extended cohort programs can talk about shared experiences and be a part of the majority throughout their time in college. This gap in offerings at predominantly white and majority-female campuses can impact Black and Latino male retention and graduation rates.

The vice provost for student success at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville saw these impacts firsthand. UT Knoxville analyzed student success data and found that the Black and Latino male graduation rate was 23% lower than the university-wide graduation rate. The vice provost and her team conducted a survey of Black and Latino men and discovered that improving students’ sense of belonging inside and outside of the classroom could improve student outcomes.

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