May 22, 2009 — The high school dropout rate in the U.S. is higher for black males than any other group — 53 percent. Several other indicators for African-American male high school youth place them at the low end of the achievement scale among peers. The result is lower college attendance and lower professional careers for black males.
The University of Virginia, area school districts and a Central Virginia group are working to help teenage boys. One new event aims to focus on those who make positive academic achievements. The "First Annual Scholars Breakfast" recognizing African-American male students will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. in the University of Virginia's Alumni Hall.
Black male teens in the ninth through 12th grades with a 3.0 grade-point average or better in Central Virginia high schools will be recognized. At the breakfast, keynote speaker Billy Cannaday, dean of the University of Virginia's School of Continuing and Professional Studies, will talk about supporting scholars and scholarships.
Bernard Hairston, executive director of community engagement for Albemarle Public Schools, also will discuss the achievement gap. Superintendents from school divisions of Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson and Orange counties will present awards to their students. Dr. Marcus Martin, associate vice president for diversity and equity at U.Va., will make a special presentation to eighth-graders, parents and the "Central Virginia 100."
The "Central Virginia 100" is the shortened name for the "100 Black Men of Central Virginia Interest Group," which was formed last winter. The group consists of African-American male adults living in Central Virginia with careers in education, administration, ministry, medicine, dentistry, broadcasting, government, business and others. The group has applied for charter chapter status in the national organization "100 Black Men of America."
Other sponsors include the U.Va. Office of Diversity and Equity and the XI IOTA chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Note: Media are invited to cover this event.