UofM Announces New Effort to Increase Student Success for Adult Learners of Color

Oct. 15, 2021 — The University of Memphis received a grant supporting University-community partnerships aimed at leveraging the assets of Black, Latino and Indigenous adult learners from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) to identify and address barriers facing adult students of color.

The UofM is focusing on enhancing college access and success for adult students of color through its Prep Academy and African American Male Academy. The Prep Academy, an innovative earned-admission program, engages students in career development, academic readiness and personal development, and employees to earn college admission, regardless of background or test score.

“We are grateful for the APLU and USU for support that will be critical to the continued success of the Prep Academy and African American Male Academy,” said UofM President M. David Rudd. “We have made significant progress and this grant will help us grow the impact of the Academy.”

The African American Male Academy provides resources, mentors, completion grants, wrap-around services and a “Culture of Inclusive Excellence” student support programs including Empowered Men of Color, Black Scholars, Memphis Advantage Scholarships, Hooks African American Male Initiative, Emerging Leaders, Helen Hardin Honors, Academic Coaching for Excellence, I am a Man: I Teach, TRiO-TRIOs, Talented Tenth, Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (engineering), First Scholars, Peer Power, Center for the Advancement of Youth and Development, Office of First Generation Student Success, Black Alumni Association, National Pan Hellenic Council and the Finish Line to facilitate graduation from middle to high school. Funding will support a peer mentoring program designed to increase the number of adult students of color earning admission through the Prep Academy and degrees awarded to African American males and other adult students of color.

“Black, Latino/x and Indigenous adult learners have an extraordinary set of assets, and we’re thrilled to work with our institutions to address barriers they face to accessing and completing a bachelor’s degree,” said Christel Perkins, assistant vice president at APLU and Deputy Executive Director of USU. “These grants will help institutions develop and expand partnerships with community organizations to create an ecosystem harnessing the wealth of experiences and assets these adult learners embody.”

Seven other institutions are also receiving grants to undertake similar projects. Each institution will partner with a local organization, such as an employer, to build an ecosystem for helping Black, Latino and Indigenous learners thrive. Additionally, institutions will critically examine their advising, enrollment and reenrollment practices, and student support services to identify and eliminate barriers facing students. Lumina Foundation is funding the effort.

The other seven institutions receiving grants are California State University, Fresno; California State University, Los Angeles; the University of Colorado Denver; Florida International University, the University of Illinois Chicago; University of New Orleans; and Portland State University.