New center aims to bridge equity gaps

By Queensborough Community College

Queensborough Community College celebrated the official opening of the Queensborough Male Resource Center (QMRC) last month.

The QMRC, made possible by a $450,000 grant from Robin Hood, is a landmark achievement for Queensborough, geared toward creating positive, lifechanging differences for male students, with a particular focus on self-identified Black and Latino males who experience lower retention and graduation rates at colleges and universities across the country.

“This will serve as a national model for institutions of higher education,” Queensborough President Christine Mangino said.

“We know that obtaining a college degree is still one of the surest pathways to greater economic mobility. People who have at least a bachelor’s degree can earn as much as a million dollars more than those without a degree over a lifetime of work,” said Eleanor Peters, Young Adults Program Officer for Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting philanthropy in New York City.  “Unfortunately, the economic benefits of a college education too often disproportionately elude Black and Latino male students who are impacted by systemic barriers like racism and poverty.”

In fall 2021, a team of 20 Queensborough colleague’s representative of nearly every division across the institution participated in the USC’s Equity Institute, an eight-week workshop designed to result in action plans to advance equity in four key opportunity areas. One of the areas examined was the college’s structure for programs that support Black and Latino males.

“What we discovered was that while Queensborough offers multiple, effective small-scale initiatives that serve Black and Latino males, the college lacked a comprehensive infrastructure to maximize the impact of the available resources,” said Amaris Matos, assistant vice president of equity, inclusion and belonging and principal investigator for the Robin Hood grant.

Following this discovery, the group started to brainstorm the ideal structure and that idea formed the foundation for the grant proposal.

“It’s amazing to see the Queensborough Male Resource Center come to fruition,” QMRC Director Jamal Biggs said. “The QMRC motto, ‘Nothing About You, Without You’ is to emphasize to our students how much this center is here to support their personal, academic and professional needs.”

Biggs, who previously was a CUNY Start advisor, added, “Colleges across the country have seen their male students fail to reach degree completion at alarming rates, so it’s important that we, as an institution committed to closing equity gaps, create a space that is safe, welcoming, and supportive for our male students to achieve their goals.”

Idris Gbadamosi, a first-year student majoring in electronic technology, works part-time as a security guard and takes care of his siblings. He said, “My life was hard to the point where I wasn’t sure I could stay in school but then I met Jamal. Slowly I felt more positive about my situation and met other students at QMRC who could relate to my problems. Confidence, friendship and support have played a big part in my ability to stay in school.”

Akeem Azan, a second semester student at Queensborough in the digital art and design program said, For me, the Male Resource Center has changed my life. It is a safe space, a warm and welcoming space where I have found so much support, a space where I belong, and feel confident to share my thoughts and story. It is the space where I came out of my shell and made lasting friends.”

Jaiden Patterson is a second-year student majoring in music production. Jamal had reached out to him last spring to help build awareness of the QMRC. “We’re a family. We’re together to network, go on field trips, participate in events like the Barbershop where students get free haircuts, hear motivational speakers, and maybe most of all learn from each other.”

The QMRC welcomes all Queensborough students, faculty and staff without regard to race, gender, national origin and other characteristics.  Services offered at the QMRC are designed to address systematic barriers that often prevent self-identified Black and Latino males from reaching degree completion, including leadership training, mentorship opportunities, academic tutoring, career counseling, specialized employment and internship opportunities, and community events.

This article was originally posted here.

Queensborough Community College

is located in Queens, New York.