New Report Examines Graduation Rates in 15 Districts Nationwide and the Opportunities and Barriers to Black Male Student Success

CAMBRIDGE, Mass, May 21, 2024 Today, the Schott Foundation for Public Education released their report, “Love is the Foundation for Life: Schott Report on Black Males in Public Education.” This report outlines the systemic opportunities and institutional barriers Black male students face and offers cross-sector recommendations for building the supports needed to improve education and life outcomes. The research findings were produced in partnership with the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools.

The report highlights several key findings impacting Black males in public education:

  • Between 2012 and 2020, Black students experienced the highest graduation rate improvement of all groups, cutting the racial gap between graduating Black and white students nearly in half and increasing the nation’s overall graduation rate by 4%. 
  • Following the pandemic in 2021, Black life expectancy declined by four years (six years lower than whites), largely driven by the decline in the Black male life expectancy by five years, which represented the largest decline of any race or gender subgroup.
  • High school graduation is a key factor in positively impacting life expectancy. Improvements in K-12 and higher education levels contribute nearly 10 months to the average life expectancy in a county for each standard increase in educational achievement.
  • While there was an overall improvement in graduation rates for Black male students across all 15 districts analyzed, only one district, Mobile County, AL (88%), had a graduation rate above the national average (86%).
  • Among the 15 districts analyzed, Detroit, MI (54%), Philadelphia, PA (59%), Baltimore City, MD (65%), Minneapolis, MN (65%), and Oakland Unified (71%) had the five lowest four-year graduation rates for Black males.

“The Love is the Foundation for Life Report is about catalyzing a future where all Black male students grow up and learn in educational and community environments that support them in living long, healthy, and successful lives,” says Dr. John H. Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation. “When we invest in the group facing the greatest barriers to success — Black male students — we create a chain reaction that benefits all students and increases learning and living outcomes.”

The Schott Foundation and partners advocate for communities and schools to be resourced around a common North Star: supporting Black males with “loving systems.” These are systems defined by their ability to provide the core supports you would provide children you love, including health and community resources, as well as school and financial policies that foster the unique potential of every student and ensure their needs are met.

The Schott Foundation offers a robust set of recommendations across multiple sectors, all of which must come together to build “loving systems.” To improve education and life outcomes for Black male students and therefore all students:

  • Policymakers should focus on stimulating learning for all, closing the racial wealth gap, and increasing the well-being of America’s families.
  • Philanthropic organizations must break out of investing silos to support building the comprehensive ecosystems of success needed for Black males to flourish.
  • Federal and state governments must serve as a “loving systems” anchor, crafting policies and funding streams that help large portions of communities gain access to the economic and concrete supports needed to thrive.

“To change this trajectory impacting the very lives of Black males, we must broaden our lens beyond the classrooms and hallways because students do not live within school walls,” says Dr. Andre Perry, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “They reside with families and are part of neighborhoods where the prevailing conditions directly impact not only their educational outcomes but also their life expectancy. This larger ecosystem surrounding education calls for a comprehensive approach that addresses the myriad of factors contributing to a child’s well-being and success.”

“At Schott, we continue to measure high school graduation rates because they remain a central determinant of both life outcomes as well as life expectancy,” says Dr. John H. Jackson. Ultimately, the Love is the Foundation for Life Report is a call for policymakers, communities, and regional philanthropies to join in our efforts to build ‘loving systems’; to measure and improve upon the number that really matters—the average life expectancy of Black males in your community.”

To access the full report, please visit


For more than 30 years, Schott has held to the principle that systemic injustice requires systemic solutions rooted in the communities most impacted. As a public fund that supports the education justice movement, the Schott Foundation collaborates with philanthropic partners to provide resources and strategic support for grassroots organizations across the country advancing racial justice, gender equity, and LGBTQ rights in public education. Learn more in our 2023 impact report.