MnSCU joins with African American churches to promote higher education

Posted: January 23, 2007

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

As part of an initiative to increase the number of African American students preparing for college, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is joining with African American churches in the Twin Cities to reach out to parents and young people in their congregations.

On Sunday, Jan. 28, Chancellor James McCormick and presidents of some Twin Cities area colleges and Metropolitan State University will speak during worship services at six churches. Their goal is to provide information and support for parents as they help their children prepare to succeed in college.

"The event, 'Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Super Sunday,' is part of a statewide campaign to increase access and opportunity for groups that traditionally have encountered societal and cultural barriers to completing a college education," said Chancellor James H. McCormick.

McCormick will speak during the 10:45 a.m. service at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Other participating churches include Greater Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church and Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church, both in Minneapolis; Progressive Baptist Church and St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, both in St. Paul; and New Creation Church in Brooklyn Park.

"We are excited about this new and innovative partnership," McCormick said. "The alliance is a natural one because we have a common vision - to see more African American students - and other students of color as well - enter and complete college successfully."

A recent report by the Brookings Institute showed that while one-third of all Twin Cities area adults have earned a four-year degree, only 19 percent of African Americans, 11 percent of Mexicans and 8 percent of Hmong have a bachelor's degree.

"We understand that it can be difficult for parents to know the best way to lead their children through what can be a complicated process," said Whitney Harris, executive director of diversity and multiculturalism for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. "We want parents to know how we can support their efforts in guiding their children to succeed in college." Harris said.

After the church services, admission representatives from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will provide information on the admission process and answer questions at the churches.

Wilson Bradshaw, president of Metropolitan State University and one of the presidents who will speak, said, "It is incumbent on leaders in public higher education to remove the barriers - real and perceived - that prevent students of color from thinking of higher education as a viable goal. I am proud that the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is making that dream attainable through this initiative."

With nearly 30,000 students of color or 14 percent of the system's enrollment, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is the largest provider of higher education in the state for students of color. African American students attending the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities comprise about 7 percent of the system's total enrollment.

Plans call for "Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Super Sunday" to become an annual event and to expand to other underserved and underrepresented communities.