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Team Engages with Community to Enhance Success of African American Youth
Iowa Ag Connection - 09/27/2022

In Iowa, African American students graduate from high school at a lower rate than the overall student population. This graduation gap can affect earnings, students' likelihood of enrolling in higher education, and their prospects of earning college and professional degrees.

A team of Iowa State University faculty, extension and outreach professionals and community members came together with the goal of enhancing the academic success of African American youth. This project reflected the spirit of Iowa State's land-grant philosophy, sharing knowledge beyond the campus borders. It also furthered the College of Human Sciences' mission and vision to expand human potential and create, share and apply knowledge to improve people's lives through the science and technology of living and learning.

"We knew there was a disparity between the academic performance of African American youth and their peers," said Tera Jordan, assistant provost for faculty development and associate professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State and study principal investigator. "We had a unique opportunity to work with ISU Extension and Outreach, lay leaders, and area residents to enhance programming and make a difference in communities that serve African American students and their families."

Kimberly Greder.The team brought together African American adults and African American youth residing in Polk County for a series of study circles focused on listening to participants' experiences and learning more about their educational goals, ideas and needs related to promoting academic success.

Informed by the information shared in the study circles, action forums were then held where a different group of residents weighed in on ideas centered around academic success.

"We really focused on discussing and enhancing academic success at the individual, family, school and community level -- and exploring how all of those factors can have an impact on youth's academic success," said Kimberly Greder, professor of human development and family studies and family wellbeing extension state specialist at Iowa State University.

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