Box Tops for Education Wants to Increase Black Male Teacher Representation in the Classroom

Black students are punished at higher rates than their peers and are less likely to be proficient in key subjects, often, because of systemic bias. Supporting Black male teachers changes everything.

Confident young male high school teacher talking to students
Photo: Getty Images

Education has always been important in Black communities. But systemic racism leaves Black youth vulnerable to disparities in funding, staffing, and overall outcomes. Some believe these disparities intensify when Black students don't have access to Black educators. Many groups are underrepresented, but Black men, who make up only 2 percent of teachers, are especially rare.

Black students generally are punished at rates that are higher than their peers and show lower proficiency in key subjects, like math and science. Black male teachers can disrupt that issue.

The same disparities that impact Black students make it hard for Black men to be teachers.

In light of the hardships that these teachers face, Box Tops for Education has committed to providing $500,000 in funding to Black Men Teach (BMT), an organization that is committed to improving educational outcomes for Black students through increasing the access they have to Black male teachers. The money will support scholarships, loan forgiveness, and programming to help get more Black male teachers into schools in Minnesota and surrounding areas.

Markus Flynn, executive director of BMT, says these funds can improve Black students' outcomes in the Twin Cities. The organization believes that Black male teachers aren't just instructors—they're mentors and remind Black youth that they can dream big and achieve their goals. Diverse educators encourage students to think differently and encourage inclusive perspectives from a young age.

Flynn says organizations like BMT are crucial so diverse teachers are ready and available to inspire, mentor, and ultimately increase success rates for students in our communities. "Since I took over this role, the mission to recruit, prepare, place, and retain Black male teachers has remained the core of the organization, and support from brands like Box Tops for Education goes a long way to help the cause."

Research is clear that all students benefit from having access to diverse instructors. But Black students are particularly vulnerable to educational disparities and a lack of mentorship. For them, having just one Black male teacher decreases the likelihood of dropping out of school and increases the chance of attending college. According to the Institute of Labor Economics, Black students with one Black male teacher in elementary school are 13 percent more likely to enroll in college. Those with two are 32 percent more likely to enroll. The report also found that students with a Black male teacher are 29 percent less likely to drop out. For low-income Black male students, this rate jumps to 39 percent.

Flynn says Black students, especially Black boys, feel more comfortable reaching out to teachers and faculty when they have access to diverse educators. In Minnesota, only half a percent of teachers are Black men, says Flynn. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it also has the second-largest gap in graduation rates between white and Black students. The state has an 88 percent graduation rate for white students and a 67% graduation rate for Black students.

Box Tops supports this effort. Since its founding in 1996, schools have earned over $945 million through the Box Tops for Education program through General Mills. In 2021 Box Tops sought to expand its impact by introducing their Schools in Need program, which allows participants to give Box Tops to underfunded schools. Their collaboration with Black Men Teach is an opportunity to further fight the disparities in low-funded schools that disproportionately impact Black youth.

BMT has a goal for Black men to comprise 20 percent of the teaching staff in their eight partner schools by 2025. By 2030, they aim to have 100 Black male teachers in Twin Cities classrooms.

"BMT wants all students to have the opportunity to attend schools staffed with racially and culturally diverse teachers and leaders. This creates an environment that affirms students for who they are," says Flynn.

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