by Rachel Williams
For the second time in three years, UWG will receive funding for the University System of Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative program. The AAMI grant is designed to support African-American male students by increasing retention, progression and graduation rates.
UWG participants in the 2012-2013 AAMI Learning Community Cohort, George Roberts, on left, and Timothy Nesmith, on right.
“In 2001, the University System of Georgia determined that African-American men weren’t graduating at the same rate or obtaining the same access to higher education as their peers,” says Cheryl Thomas Hill, the coordinator of UWG’s AAMI program. “This initiative was put in place to increase the retention, progression and graduation rates of African-American males who are enrolled at USG schools. Here at the University of West Georgia, the AAMI Learning Community is our primary way of supporting these students. We also have two student organizations, Black Men Encouraging Success Today, also known as BEST, and Black Men With Initiative, the latter of which was implemented in 2002, supporting our goal to increase RPG for African-American males. These initiatives help African-American males feel more connected to campus. When participants say AAMI is like a brotherhood, they really take that seriously. They look out for each other, hold each other accountable and spend a lot of time together. It’s awesome to see the camaraderie develop.”
UWG’s African-American Male Initiative Learning Community has more than doubled in size in the past three years, and now supports 48 freshmen in two learning communities. The program features study halls, guest speakers and upperclassmen mentors who have completed the program. The USG grant and UWG matching funds have helped the CDI collaborate with the EXCEL Center to implement a tutoring program within the learning community. CDI will use a portion of the funds to provide a salary to their upperclassmen mentors and tutors as well as to create a textbook library for financially struggling students. The AAMI Learning Community offers workshops on topics ranging from leadership development to study skills such as time management and note taking.
“We also have the students engage in community service, or service learning,” adds Deirdre Haywood-Rouse, acting director for the Center Diversity and Inclusion. “The gentlemen of AAMI establish connections and collaborations with groups outside the university, such as a local assisted living residence for retirees, Make a Difference Day, BEST, which is a founding chapter and AAMI civic partner based in Carrollton, Georgia, and the Adult Literacy Program. When they graduate from the University of West Georgia, they will have acquired skills that will aid them in navigating life, becoming productive members of society and being dynamic alumni who give back to the next generation of students. The community service aspect is indeed crucial. They understand that we all live in one world, and we all need to support each other. These young men really help make the University of West Georgia a great place to be.”
In addition to their programs for students, the CDI also hosts a variety of speakers. On October 22, 2013, Joseph Barnes, a motivational educator, will facilitate a leadership workshop as part of their AAMI lecture series. This event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center ballroom.