Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


African American teenage boys-Psychology, African American teenage boys-Education, Urban youth-Psychology, Success in adolescence, African-American high school seniors, Achieving despite the odds, African-American adolescent males, African-American adolescent school performance, Achievement gap, High-achieving Black male youth, Resilience, Urban Black male youth, High school experiences of urban youth, Academic success of African-American youth, School-engagement, High-achieving African-American male students, Urban public schools


The purpose of this exploratory, flexible methods study was to understand how high-achieving urban African-American male high school students are able to excel despite environmental factors faced at school, home, and in their community. The research questions that guided this study are: (1) what impact do the school, peer, family, and community environments have on the resiliency of high-achieving Black male youth who attend a school in a high poverty area? (2) What relationships and support systems shape the behaviors, attitudes, and aspirations of African-American male students who reside in an urban environment? The sample pool was comprised of sixteen African-American/Black male students who were seniors at an inner-city public high school. Participation was in the form of focus groups where students responded to the researcher's open-ended, semi-structured questions and each other's comments regarding environmental factors that have significantly influenced their self-concept and academic achievement. Major findings were the following: (1) Participants believed that they possessed the cognitive ability and willpower to do well in school and in their future. (2) They recognized education as the key ingredient needed to become and remain socially empowered, prominent, and successful. (3) Youth attributed their resiliency, or ability to bounce back under adverse circumstances and achieve, to the positive, supportive, and structured relationships that they maintained with friends, school staff, family, and community members who verbalized and demonstrated their commitment to these youth.




iii, 112 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 94-102)