High school graduation rates differ greatly when comparing minority male to minority female students, but a mentoring partnership between Truckee Meadows Community College and the Washoe County School District is taking aims at closing that gap.
The school district’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday heard a presentation from TMCC about its Men of Color Mentorship Program. It’s designed to motivate high school students from under-represented populations, beginning in their sophomore year, to attend college.
The mentorship program is in its third year with 80 participants, up from 40 last year. It has four peer mentors who are TMCC student employees and two full-time team members running the program. About 70 percent of students being mentored this year are Hispanic.
In 2017, Hispanic females in Washoe County had an 83 percent graduation rate and Hispanic males had a 76 percent graduation rate. Among American Indians, females had an 88 percent graduation rate and males had a 53 percent graduation rate.
The program has been active at Galena, North Valleys, and Reed high schools. It expanded this school year to include Hug High School.
Hug principal Cristina Oronoz told trustees that she examined data at Hug and noticed girls outperformed boys. However, males at Hug had a narrow edge over females when it came to ACT scores, although such tests are typically taken by college-bound juniors and seniors.
“In looking at core credit attainment in ninth grade, there is a 15 percent gap. The females were definitely outperforming males at the ninth grade level,” Oronoz said. “In looking at the 10th grade core credit attainment, that gap jumps to 20 percent, so there is definitely a need.”
Monthly one-on-one meetings, dual credit opportunities, career exploration workshops, financial aid resources, parental involvement, community service, field trips and social events are included in mentoring activities. Support is also offered once the students begin their first year of college.
“We want to instill in them a passion to give back to their community and be leaders,” said Miguel Martinez, TMCC access outreach recruitment coordinator.
The mentorship program is being funded through TMCC’s state account and through grants, Martinez said.