Less than 1,000 of the 10,559 black male students enrolled in the Rochester City School District from 2009 to 2010 graduated. That's according to a report just released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
The graduation rate for black males dropped from 33 percent for the 2007-2008 school year to just nine percent for the 2009 academic year.
Rochester's black male graduation rate of 9% is the worst in the nation.
Colliniare Walters, 25, is taking is GED test next month after dropping out of high school.
According to the Schott Foundation, he's one of many black males, across the nation, who has been, "pushed out" of school. Students who are, "pushed out," don't show up for school on a daily basis, "I was home trying to help out my family so they can go to school and get their act together, and really wasn't worried about mine," says Walters.
The Urban League's Youth Build Rochester program helps high school dropouts like Walters earn a GED and/or industry recognized certificate, aims to increase literacy and numeracy, and employment or enrollment in post-secondary education.
Walters says the support he's getting from the program has him looking forward to a bring future, "I'm just trying to get into college because I've already got my construction certificate, so I just want to see how far I can push that," says Walters.
11th grade student Ahmed Sadiq's family history is motivating him to beat the statistics, "my uncle, he used to go to school, but there were some complications, so he dropped out," explains Sadiq, "and so I want to be the first person in my family to go to college and I want to make the whole family proud."
The Urban League's mentor-centered programming is helping him reach his goals, "you have people there that can help you, like with your homework, with your classwork, any problems you have," says Sadiq. William Clark, President and CEO of the Urban League explains, "if they know that there's someone who's advocating on their behalf that will give them the encouragement so that they can apply themselves and have a successful outcome."
While the school district is tackling, "push out" issues like truancy, the community can help solve what the Schott Foundation calls, "lock out," issues. That's when students don't get the support and resources they need to succeed. According to the district, role models are a step in the right direction, " we have to make sure that we get men in the community to wrap their arms around many of our young black men who don't have role models to make sure that they understand education is important," says Malik Evans, President of the Rochester City School Board.
The Schott Foundation has been tracking the graduation rates of black males who attend public schools since 2004.
The group says that at the pace the graduation rate among black males is improving nationally, it could take nearly 50 years to bridge the achievement gap.