Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Gross, Jacob

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Brooms, Derrick

Committee Member

Alagaraja, Meera

Committee Member

Cuyjet, Michael

Committee Member

Johnson, Detra

Author's Keywords

black male collegians; success; engagement; persistence; BMI programs; case study


The retention and graduation rates of Black male collegians continues to be a work in progress for colleges and universities in the U.S. Researchers have highlighted impediments to student success and degree attainment of this population at historically White institutions (HWIs)—with racism being prominent. As a result, recent efforts have been made to promote success and persistence among Black men in college. Within the last decade, Black male initiatives (BMI) have emerged on college campuses across the country. BMIs are programs aimed at increasing persistence and success among Black male collegians. Based on the newness of these initiatives, there is a limited body of research that explores their impact on students. This qualitative study explored the experiences of 15 Black males engaged in BMI programs at three different public institutions: St. Matthew University (pseudonym), Hudson University (pseudonym), and Gaines University (pseudonym). The purpose of this study was to investigate the ways in which BMI programs impact the educational experiences of Black male collegians at HWIs. Using a multi-case study design, I conducted focus group interviews at each university and gathered program documents from the three BMI programs to construct three single, bounded cases. I intentionally centered the voices and perceptions of students in this study, while using program documents to provide context to student narratives to answer the research question. The conceptual framework of sense of belonging was chosen to help guide the findings of the study. Data analysis revealed themes within each case relative to how each program enhanced the participants’ student experience and sense of belonging. These themes varied among each case, so a cross-case analysis was conducted to further investigate the similarities and differences among the programs. From this analysis five themes emerged: 1) Connecting Black Males and Creating Brotherhood, 2) Providing Opportunities for Growth and Development, 3) Acquiring Support and Skills to Navigate College, 4) Boosting Persistence, and 5) Creating a Safe Haven. Each of these themes was discussed based on student narratives in efforts to explain how these programs collectively increased sense of belonging for the participants in the study. The data analysis revealed that each of the BMI programs while their approaches may have been unique, each of the programs accomplished their mission and purpose to promote persistence and student success among the participants. These BMI programs are a testament of the positive outcomes Black males can experience through their engagement in safe, affirming spaces where they can build brotherhood, receive holistic support, gain college navigational skills, and undergo growth and development. These BMI programs also serve as examples of productive and effective ways to usher sense of belonging, student success, and persistence among the Black male collegians.