Karen-Nicole Knapper | Communication, Media and Learning Technologies Design | Mathematics Science and Technology

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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design

In the Department of Mathematics, Science & Technology

The Talented Tenth

Karen-Nicole Knapper, Ed.M. in Instructional Technology and Media

“The Talented Tenth”: A Mentorship Website for African-American Students Lack of academic readiness, low expectations, and social-adjustment issues are among the key reasons that students, particularly students of color from low-income families, drop out of college or fail to enroll altogether (Nguyen et al, 2012).  The consequences of failing to close the achievement gap are profound, including higher rates of unemployment, poverty and poor health, including mental illnesses such as depression, among African-Americans compared to Whites (Brown et al qtd. by Hurd et al). Mentorship offers an approach to address academic alienation and narrow the achievement gap. That mentoring has become a priority in higher education is not breaking news: hundreds of formal mentor programs are administered nationwide and even more informally (Girves et al, 2005). However, there is now a national crisis for African-American youth seeking mentorship due to the many challenges involved in recruiting and retaining African-American mentors (Urban Leadership Institute, 2013).

This grant proposal outlines the design and rollout of an online mentorship website, “The Talented Tenth,” that integrates technology, mentorship, and social media to address the “achievement gap” for African-American students in higher education. The website’s primary goal is to help close the achievement gap by improving students’ performance across three areas: enrollment, retention, and graduation rates.

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