Black Male Initiative helps minority youth


Photo by Daniel Salomon

Program Manager Leon Thomas talks with minority students and community members during the Black Male Initiative Summit on campus in February.

Raquel Hamner, Photography Editor

Minority men planning to attend AACC can receive scholarships, attend retreats and find community support.

Despite its name, the Black Male Initiative is for all minority men, Leon

Thomas, BMI’s program manager and coordinator, said.

Thomas and former Dean of Student Services Ivan Harrel started BMI in spring 2011 to help young men “transition from high school to college,” especially if they struggle academically, Thomas said.

Torrington Rogers, a second-year transfer studies student, entered the program shortly after enrolling at AACC when he was 13.

“[BMI] gives me a sense of home away from home,” Rogers said.  “Having people on your side is such a big part of this journey.”

Olorunjuwon Ajayi, a second-year engineering student, found out about the BMI while participating in a summer program at AACC.

“I got help from advisers for classes, tips on time management and how to adjust to the college environment,” he said. “My favorite part is knowing I’m not doing this alone. There is always someone who can give advice and guide us.”

Students in the program can receive an incentive scholarship of up to $1,000, participate in the annual

BMI leadership retreat, and form connections with administration, faculty and staff.

To join BMI, students must be college freshmen and qualify for SASP—the Student Achievement and Success Program.

To qualify, students must meet one of the following criteria: their parents do not have bachelor’s degrees; they are required as freshmen to take at least one developmental course; they qualify for financial aid on the FAFSA—Free Application for Federal Student Aid—form; they belong to a minority group; or they are military or veteran students.

Minority high school students interested in attending AACC can join the BMI Early Arrival program, a one-day event that introduces students to staff and faculty.

To be a part of the early arrival program, students must apply to the college and RSVP to the orientation by July 30.