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Empowering Males of Color

EMOC logo


DC Public Schools formally launched the Empowering Males of Color (EMOC) initiative on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 as a targeted effort to explore responses to current challenges and build on the assets of our PK- 12 Black and Latino males. EMOC programs emphasize community connections, and encourage school & district leaders to devise effective strategies to enhance the student experience, increase achievement, and prepare our males of color for college, careers, and life beyond DCPS. Our goal is to ensure that at least 1000 male students of color receive tailored, academic and personal supports in the form of mentoring, character development opportunities, internships and specialized classes. The EMOC initiative requires participation from all levels of the organization but the day-to-day administration of the initiative is guided by the School Turnaround and Performance Division.

  • EMOC Innovation Grants launched as a multi-year initiative to develop programming specifically addressing the needs of Black and Latino male students and educators, such as service learning trips to Jamaica and culturally responsive professional development. We have awarded $1.7 million to create new opportunities for students in 16 schools, thanks to the work of the DC Public Education Fund.
  • The Male Educators of Color Collaborative (MEOCC) launched in summer 2016 as a source of fellowship for male teachers of color, a valuable yet underrepresented group of educators. Research has shown the benefit to all students when they learn from a diverse faculty. MEOCC will encompass professional development, national networking, and meaningful connections with partnerships to similar organizations in other districts nationally.
  • The Leading Men Fellowship is an opportunity for recent DCPS graduates (ages 18-24) who are young men of color to serve in early childhood classrooms and receive coaching and support in pursuit of a degree in education. This 10-month, paid education training program creates a link between our career-ready high school programs and our pipeline to bring men of color into our classrooms as educators. MEOCC and Leading Men were both made possible through a grant from the Kellogg Foundation secured by the DC Public Education Fund.
  • The EMOC 1000 is an expansion of the original 500 for 500 Mentoring Through Literacy Program which focused on having mentors provide literacy support to students in groups and individually, often through established partnerships such as Reading Partners, For Love of Children, and Higher Achievement. We are currently expanding our reach beyond the original 500 target and capturing more possibilities for meaningful adult-student relationships and evidence based practice.
  • Ron Brown College Preparatory High School opened in August 2016 as the city’s first public, all male college-prep high school. Dr. Benjamin Williams serves as the school’s founding principal. The school emphasizes college and career programming with a goal of a 100 percent graduation rate from both high school and college.

For additional information on EMOC programs please contact Jennifer Nelson, Office of the Chief of Schools at [email protected] and for information on Ron Brown College Preparatory High School please contact Dr. Benjamin Williams, Principal at [email protected].

Background and Theory of Action

Over the next three years, DCPS will dedicate $20 million to help our young men of color:

  • Improve early literacy rates;
  • Increase in seat attendance;
  • Increase enrollment in Advanced Placement courses;
  • Improve graduation rates;
  • Increase student satisfaction;
  • Increase college acceptance and persistence; and
  • Prepare students for high-wage, high-growth careers.


ENGAGE our students, families, and the community in solutions that ensure the long-term success of our males of color.

  • MENTORS: Partner with Community-Based Organizations to provide literacy support and mentorship to males of color.
  • Launch a Student Task Force to ensure that the student voice is informing our work.
  • Establish a College Signing Day
  • Celebrate Successful Career Training
  • Collaborate with other District Government Agencies

IMPROVE and expand research-based strategies that are already underway within the district – with an emphasis on equity.

  • GRANTS: Award Funds to Schools with Promising Approaches to Improving Outcomes
  • Launch a Teacher Recruitment Task Force
  • Expand Alternatives to Suspensions 
  • Expand Support for the 9th Grade Academies
  • Ensure that School Libraries and Classrooms Celebrate and Affirm Males of Color

INNOVATE and challenge our approach to problems and reflect on policies that have consistently made an impact on the academic achievement and development of our males of color

  • HIGH SCHOOL: Open a high School designed to support the academic and social-emotional development of males of color
  • Invest in Early Childhood through the “Make Early Learning, Effective Learning Initiative”