A Southern University System program designed to reverse the trend of fewer Black male students attending and graduating from college is demonstrating higher than average success in student retention.
Implemented in 2012 and located on the Southern University New Orleans campus, the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement (CUSA) is the centerpiece initiative of the Five-Fifths Agenda for America (FFAA), a demonstration project with the dual goals of increasing the number of college degrees among black men and increasing the ranks of black male classroom teachers.
Data from a recent internal SU System CUSA enrollment and retention status report indicates that the Honoré Center program is associated with an increase in fall-to-fall retention in a range of 25 percent to 46 percent. Of the 30 total students who completed at least one semester after enrolling in the Honoré Center over the past three academic years, 12 remain actively enrolled in the program and another 12 students remain enrolled at SUNO in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Those numbers represent a 40 percent program retention rate, however overall retention rises to 80 percent when including former cohort members still enrolled at SUNO.
“Not only are Honoré participants being retained in school at a higher rate then comparable students at peer institutions in Louisiana, they are making faster progress towards earning bachelors degrees. All of the Honoré students remaining in school are on pace to earn degrees in six years or less,” said CUSA director Warren Bell Jr.
The goal of the FFAA national initiative is to “identify and enable young Black men from the bottom quartile with character and leadership potential to become educators and servant leaders who will seed positive change in their schools and communities. A value-‐added goal is to establish public Historically Black Colleges and Universities as institutional bases for long-‐term systemic change,” said FFAA founder and SU System President Ronald Mason Jr.
Bell said the Honoré program reached a milestone in April when two original cohort members, third year students Louis Blackmon and Dominique Carter, earned Honor Roll recognition during SUNO’s Spring 2015 Academic Honors and Awards ceremony.
About the Honoré CUSA
The state of Louisiana in 2012 awarded the Southern University System a half million dollars in funding to plan and implement an initiative designed to address an important national challenge: to reverse the trend of fewer African-‐American male students attending and graduating from college. Named for retired US Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré who led all active-duty troops from all military branches for the storm recovery operations following Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of the Gulf Coast in 2005, the Center recruits New Orleans-‐area male students into a highly structured living and learning environment designed to ensure their academic and personal success as college men and future leaders. All Honoré scholars promise to serve at least two years after graduation as local classroom teachers. They agree to rigorous rules of conduct and performance. The State of Louisiana provided a total $1-million to support the Honoré Center. In addition to Louisiana Legislative start-‐up support, the project is endorsed and receiving further support to continue its operations through private donors and philanthropic organizations including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Open Society Foundation, Educational Testing Services plus the Kellogg, Lumina, and Kresge foundations. CUSA will move ahead as a project that is completely underwritten in FY2016 by private and foundation dollars. For more information: http://honorecusa.sus.edu