St. Petersburg College discussing decline in African-American men enrollment and graduation rates

Community leaders weigh in at Impact Forum
Posted at 5:18 PM, Oct 17, 2016

Right now, the St. Petersburg College community is working to figure out why African-American men aren't enrolling in college or graduating at the same rate as other groups. Community leaders are weighing in at the Impact Forum on the Clearwater campus.

Santavius Graham is  studying biomedical engineering and technology at SPC but said he knows other men in his own community who aren't going to college or graduating. He is the first man in his family to go to college.

“When there’s a lack of resources, a lack of employment, a lack of money, you get into petty crimes, committing crimes, and all of that thing, now you’ve got a whole different situation you’ve got to deal with before you even enroll in school,” Graham said.

St. Petersburg College is seeing 10-15% lower success rates among African-American men, compared to the whole student body. That means failing out or dropping out of school. Now the college is turning to community leaders to figure out why.

“It’s a cause for concern, I mean there’s no reason for that, I mean the fact of the matter we all have the same ability and capacity, so it’s not like there’s any difference in capacity so something’s going on,” provost of the Clearwater campus Stan Vittetoe said.

The Impact Forum is addressing challenges black men face that could stop them from enrolling in school or finishing it.

“I think we kind of have to wrap the whole community around those students early on,” Vittetoe said.

Graham will be at tonight's forum and will continue to act as a role model for his siblings and cousins.

“That’s part of my goal, to inspire them, to go to school and become something important,” Graham said.

The forum is going on until 8 p.m. on the SPC Clearwater campus 2465 Drew St., room ES 104.