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STLCC, 100 Black Men Seek Community Participation in AAMI

April 20, 2009

AAMI News Conference  
Chancellor Zelema Harris discusses
the college's African American Male
Initiative grant with representatives
of several community-based organizations
April 17 at the 100 Black Men of
Metropolitan St. Louis' headquarters.

Representatives of St. Louis Community College and the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis recently invited broad-based community participation in a program to strengthen the college's capacity to serve African-American males and improve their educational outcomes.


STLCC's African American Male Initiative (AAMI) is designed to increase the persistence rate of this target population, increase their academic achievement, and enhance the understanding and focus among faculty and staff regarding the challenges faced by these students as they enter college.


STLCC has received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the AAMI program, which will be implemented at the Forest Park and Florissant Valley campuses. The grant is for a period of two years.


Representatives from several organizations, including the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Better Family Life, Inc., the National Society of Black Engineers, the Black Leadership Roundtable, Every Step Counts, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, the Fatherhood Support Center and the Fatherhood Initiative, attended a kickoff event April 17.


"Through the African American Male Initiative, we are in a prime position to eliminate social and economic disparity," said Zelema Harris, STLCC chancellor. "Community colleges often represent an African-American man's first experience with postsecondary education, and for many, their last opportunity for obtaining a degree beyond a high school diploma."


Hourly wages of black men with an associate degree are 25 percent higher than wages of black men with only a high school education.


AAMI will include specialized orientation activities, peer and community mentoring, tutoring services, special workshops and seminars, stipends for participants and peer mentors, and staff development activities. AAMI staff will provide intensive support services for participants, including early alert academic mentoring as well as referrals to community services and resources as needed. 


"The college is in the business of expanding minds and changing lives, but we also are in the business of saving lives," said Keith Sayles, AAMI director. "These men have few role models, lack family support, have no transportation and are in financial need. I have overcome many of the challenges faced by these men, so this job is a passion for me."


For more information about AAMI, contact Sayles at 314-513-4917 or ksayles@stlcc.edu.