The Borough of Manhattan Community College’s (BMCC) Urban Male Leadership Academy (UMLA) is a CUNY Black Male Initiative (BMI) Program. Its goal is to increase the enrollment, retention, and graduation rates of students from groups that are severely underrepresented in higher education, particularly men of color. However, UMLA is not restrictive, all students are welcomed and encouraged to participate regardless of gender. At a recent UFS Community College Caucus, UMLA’s director, Ashtian Holmes, gave members an overview of the program’s endeavors and highlighted how it promotes retention. UMLA participants receive structured mentorship, individualized academic support services, leadership training, and guidance to higher education and professional opportunities. Through peer mentoring, UMLA is key to student success, driving up student retention at the college. Tutors are also hired to provide specialized help in subjects that students have traditionally experienced great difficulty in completing such as mathematics, Spanish, physics, chemistry, and English. Most importantly, UMLA aims to prepare BMCC graduates who are ready to address the unique challenges of their generation. Additionally, Mr. Holmes discussed some of the challenges facing the program, particularly the need for increased funding for CUNY BMI programs across the university. Lastly, Mr. Holmes stressed that bringing about awareness of the program to faculty and adjunct faculty is very key to future success. No doubt, some faculty and adjunct faculty may not be aware that each community college has a program similar to UMLA’s. The summary of CUNY BMI funded projects by college will be of interest and includes campus contact information. Hopefully, with greater awareness, faculty and adjunct faculty can suggest students explore the potential support and opportunities that the program can offer. It will not only address student needs it will lead to better retention and hopefully better funding.
Derek Stadler is an assistant professor in the Library at LaGuardia Community College, a member of the UFS, and convenes the UFS Community College Caucus.
Photo: CUNY, (Note the bar graph pictured is linked to program data. When reviewing the data note the range variation presented on the y axis among graphs.)