CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) received a $2 million national grant that will offer help to African American male students. The grant comes from the National Institute of Justice.
CMS says this grant will help more than 20,000 black male students. Administrators say the grant was birthed out of frustration and concern.
"Over the past four, five, six years we have been seeing the same trends in the data where African American males are being over-represented in student discipline, but also being underrepresented in advance courses such AP classes, talented and gifted," CMS Behavior Support Specialist Edwin Wilson said.
The grant will start in ten high schools. The money will hire extra personnel to a take deep dive in what is causing the negative outcomes of African American male students in CMS.
"This allows us to have someone right on-site going in the classroom coaching teachers, supporting teachers, coaching administrators," Wilson said.
The money will help teachers learn how to connect with African American males in the classroom so they can perform better academically.
"We have to look at what are the different ways we can engage African American males on a spectrum as opposed to just one single profile," Wilson said.
Wilson says planning is already underway on how to use the money. The grant starts next school year and will last for three years. In addition to better academics, staff will also be on hand to teach students positive behavior interventions and supports and also deal with social and emotional issues.
Wilson claims some male students are still dealing with the aftermath of the deadly police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and recent headlines of immigration.
"We can't expect students to deal with Algebra and Band and Biology [while] they are worried about being safe coming to school, or they are worried about their little brother or worried about their mother, whose home and may not have a job," Wilson said.
The grant will also help strengthen parental involvement. Staff will offer evening and weekend courses for moms and dads so they can learn how to be stronger advocates for their children.
"These are things you need to look out for," Wilson said. "This is how your child can be more involved."
Administrators say what CMS is going through with African American male students is not just a CMS problem, but it's also a state and local issue as well. Wilson believes the outcome of the grant will not only benefit CMS but the entire community.
"When you have such a large segment that is getting such negative outcomes in terms of education," Wilson said. "It impacts us in terms of the juvenile justice system. It impacts us in terms of the mental health, in terms of the DSS system."
Wilson says some of these things have been tried before, but argues budget cuts took some of the resources away causing no lasting change. He hopes with this $2 million grant it will offer CMS sustainability when it comes to improving outcomes for African American male students.