Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Candis Best, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joshua Moon, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

LaTonya Brown, Ph.D.


African American male retention and graduation rates in higher education are drastically lower than men of other races. In response to this, institutions are focused on diversity and creating programs and services in an attempt to increase African American male’s feelings of inclusion and belonging on campus. To explore the challenges related to the African American male experience in higher education, this study examined how participation in a youth development program prepared African American males for college. This qualitative descriptive study explores the experiences of youth who participated in a youth development program while attending high school. The study reflects data collected from a sample of 13 participants in semi structured interviews. Through the lenses of college bound and college attending program alumni, this study examined how the youth development program taught personal development and technical skills in preparation for college. To offer a well-rounded perspective on how the program prepared participants for college, the study also incorporated feedback from internal and external stakeholders of the program. Six themes emerged from the study: the importance of networking and building relationships, soft skill development, opportunities, college preparation, mentorship and brotherhood, and entrepreneurship. The results of this study support current literature indicating that validation and mentorship are essential to African American achievement in higher education.

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Education Commons