Nationwide, only 47% of African American males graduate from high school; for Latino boys, the graduation rate stands at 44%. In New York City, the nation's largest public education system with the highest enrollment of African American students, only 25% of African American male students graduate with a Regents diploma, a crucial indicator for college readiness.
More than 100,000 African American male students do not graduate from high school with their entering cohort. Nearly 1 in 5 Latino boys has dropped out of school. African American and Latino male dropouts are also more likely to have repeated one or more grade levels, entered high school performing below grade level in math and reading, and to have failed core subjects. (New York University, August 2009)
Studies show that dropping out of school is a response of last resort-when a young person sees his chances of success overwhelmed by failure. The traditional public education approach fails to engage our nation's urban young men. In New York City, African American males are four times more likely to be expelled or suspended than their white counterparts. They are twice as likely to be shunted into special education classes, and nearly three times less likely to be enrolled in gifted or talented programs. (Schott Foundation, 2010) Public schools in at-risk areas are more likely to have inexperienced teachers, large classes, inferior facilities, and lack the resources for art, music, drama or athletics.
Failure to graduate and high dropout rates translate to a depressed economic future. Studies show that dropouts are less likely to be actively employed as their peers and more likely to face higher unemployment rates when they do seek employment. (Northeastern University, October 2009)
High school dropouts are also more likely to be incarcerated or institutionalized. Nearly 1 in 4 African American high school dropouts will spend time in prison. For Latino boys, the rate stands at 6%. African American and Latino males in New York are 12 times more likely to be imprisoned than their white counterparts. (The Sentencing Project, 2007)
As a result, inner city boys are growing up in communities with an absence of positive male role models. They are more likely to be raised in a single parent household, headed by a mother or a grandmother, without the support and guidance of a traditional family structure.
The Eagle Academy Foundation was formed to combat these challenges, with the belief that young inner city men could attain high levels of academic success and strong moral character if provided with quality educational resources designed to engage young men and social support beyond the traditional school day. Today, Eagle Academy students stand as a testimony to the success of this innovative model. In the words of a recent Eagle Academy graduate, "Eagle Academy taught me to take responsibility and carve out a path to make my own success possible."