USG's African-American Male Initiative hosts 2011 AAMI Best Practices Conference

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Nearly 300 conferees will focus on improving educational outcomes for black males   CONTACT:…

Georgia (Apr 13, 2011)Nearly 300 conferees will focus on improving educational outcomes for black males


CONTACT:  Arlethia Perry-Johnson, (770) 423-6350             

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 13, 2011) — The University System of Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) will convene its “AAMI 2011 Best Practices Conference” at Macon State College, on Friday, Apr. 14 and Saturday, Apr. 15 — sharing best practices and outcomes from the USG's nationally recognized program aimed at enhancing the recruitment, retention and graduation of Black males within the state’s public colleges and universities.  The University System-wide conference will assemble nearly 300 AAMI administrators and student participants from 22 USG campuses, along with notable dignitaries and other special guests in two days of activities aimed at enhancing educational outcomes for Georgia’s African-American male students. 

The conference will launch on Friday evening, April 15, with a networking reception, followed by an Awards and Recognition Banquet showcasing the best-practice AAMI program and administrator, and saluting advocates and supporters of the program who have contributed immensely to the program’s success. In addition, high-profile national and local honorees that have strongly supported the AAMI project also will be saluted. Saturday’s activities will include three plenary sessions featuring more nationally recognized speakers, and two tracks of specialized workshop sessions tailored to the concerns and needs of the adult and youth participants. Networking breaks on Saturday will provide additional opportunities for conference attendees to meet and exchange information with their USG colleagues who are dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for Black males.

Conference participants will hear from nationally recognized speakers such as:

  • Mr. Hill Harper – Award winning actor, bestselling author and philanthropist;
  • Ms. Tina Gridiron Smith – Senior program officer at the Lumina Foundation for Education; and
  • Dr. Randal Pinkett – A former Rhodes scholar; president and CEO of BCT Partners; and winner of the NBC television show, The Apprentice, with Donald Trump;
  • Dr. Shaun R. Harper – Author, researcher and faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania;
  • Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe - founder and executive director of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB).

Harper will be the keynoter for the awards banquet, and facilitate an “Open Forum for Black Males” later that evening.

“The University System of Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative is now over eight years old, and we have made giant strides in addressing the educational challenges faced by Black males in attending college,” said AAMI Project Director Arlethia Perry-Johnson. “The pioneering work that the USG began in the fall of 2002 is now yielding significant results – most notably in the increased number of Black males that are earning their degrees from USG colleges and universities.  So we are taking the time to honor and thank those who have helped undergird and strengthen our efforts, and to highlight the practices and programs that are contributing to our outcomes.  Still, we recognize that in spite of our progress we must continue to work hard, leverage more resources, and do even more to ensure that increasing numbers of Black males in Georgia attend and graduate from college.”

Launched in the summer of 2002 by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, AAMI focuses on increasing the enrollment, retention, and graduation rates of Black men throughout the USG’s network of 35 public colleges and universities.  AAMI achieves its goals through a wide variety of programs that foster academic achievement, including advising, tutoring, mentoring, leadership development, learning communities, and student-engagement initiatives, among other programmatic activities.

In July 2002, there were three known programs in the USG focusing on improving Black males’ educational participation and outcomes. Today there are more than 37 such programs at 23 different institutions throughout the University System of Georgia – many launched and/or funded by AAMI, with many others launched and sustained by USG campuses supportive of the initiative.

Since AAMI’s inception, Black male enrollment in the University System of Georgia has increased by 67.78 percent, from 17,068 students in fall 2002, to 28,637 in fall 2010 – an increase of 11,569 Black male students. As the enrollment swells, the six-year graduation rate (the national benchmark) for USG African-American, first-time freshmen is seeing an impressive gain as well.  The graduation rate for the cohort of Black male freshmen that entered in fall 1997 – the cohort of students who entered before the launch of AAMI – was 28.95 percent.  The six-year graduation rate for the fall 2004 cohort, which graduated by Spring 2010, had risen to 38.98 percent – a 10.03 percent increase in the African-American male graduation rate since AAMI’s inception.Perhaps most importantly, the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred annually upon African-American males at USG institutions has jumped by 49.77 percent, from 1,294 Black male students awarded bachelor’s degrees in fiscal year 2003, to 1,938 students awarded degrees in fiscal year 2010 – an increase of 644 additional bachelor’s degrees being awarded annually to Black male students.

In July 2006, the Indiana-based Lumina Foundation for Education’s McCabe Fund awarded a two-year, $100,000 grant to AAMI.  That funding enabled AAMI to more strongly partner with the USG’s Office of Strategic Research and Policy Analysis, dedicating a research assistant to work directly with that office on the program’s data analysis.  In October of that year, AAMI moved its home from the Board of Regents’ offices to the campus of Kennesaw State University, with strong support from KSU President Dr. Daniel S. Papp, who also was highly involved in AAMI’s initial implementation during his tenure as a senior vice chancellor at the Board of Regents.  The program now is housed in the office of KSU’s Vice President of External Affairs, the role Perry-Johnson also holds.

In 2009, the Lumina Foundation awarded a second grant to AAMI, for $500,000 over two years.  That generous grant has enabled AAMI to significantly expand its programming, its outcomes, and its reporting capabilities. With the infusion of the Lumina grant in 2009, the enrollment of African-American males in the University System jumped by an unprecedented 15.07 percent over the previous year, from 23,255 students in fall 2008 to 26,760 in fall 2009 – an increase of 3,505 Black male students.  This past year, Black male enrollment in the USG increased by another 7.01 percent, from 26,760 students in fall 2009 to 28,637 in fall 2010, reflecting an additional 1,877 Black male students.

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SAVE THE DATE: A “save-the-date” card, featuring key highlights of the conference, is available at:


CONFERENCE WEBSITE: For more information on the upcoming AAMI Best Practices conference, please visit the conference website at:


GO IN-DEPTH: An in-depth article about the University System of Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) can be accessed at:


MORE ON AAMI: For more information on the USG’S AAMI, please visit the project’s website at



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