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Project MALES Releases Research Brief Examining College Knowledge of Gang-Associated Youth

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The Project MALES Research Institute has released a new research brief examining what Latino young men who self-identify as gang-associated know about college knowledge and their aspirations for the future.

As part of the qualitative analysis, the researchers examined the experiences of 19 students at an alternative school named Sunridge High School; 13 of whom were associated with gangs and graffiti crews.

According to the findings, 12 out of the 13 gang-associated respondents expressed an interest in pursuing some form of higher education or credential program. However, most of the information they received about college came from sources outside of the high school.

“Students in this study hold only small pieces of valuable information about college admissions, and many possess the natural talents and skills to do well in school but are not afforded the opportunity to gain new knowledge about how to apply to college, and that information is unequally distributed, if at all, in Sunridge High School,” the researchers stated.

The scholars suggest school districts develop strong relationships with youth and community partners to implement a holistic evaluation of school and community resources, investments and policing strategies to determine new ways of supporting at risk youth.

“School districts should offer educators and counselors professional development, through an asset-based perspective, on why youth join gangs, how to support youth to leave gangs and best practices on how to re-engage gang youth in schooling,” the researchers noted.

The brief is authored by Adrian H. Huerta, assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California; Patricia M. McDonough, professor of higher education at UCLA; Kristan M. Venegas, the LaFetra Endowed Professor of Teaching & Learning in the LaFetra College of Education; and Walter R. Allen, the Allan Murray Cartter Professor and Distinguished Professor of Education, Sociology and African American Studies at UCLA.

With this research brief, Project MALES seeks to amplify scholarship focused on men of color in education across the country. Read the full report.

More about Project MALES: Housed within UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) is a research and mentoring initiative committed to advancing the educational outcomes of male students of color at the local, state and national level.