OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — "It's important to really think positively about who you are, as a young black man," Director of UNO's TRIO program and Project Achieve Shannon Teamer said.
"We will be what we see," he said. So if we don't see us in certain positions, certain roles or having certain successes, then how is it that we will aspire to be that?"
Teamer works with first-generation college students.
Teamer and UNO retention coordinator Will Smith are co-sponsoring the 'Young Kings' support program for incoming black male students.
"We wanted to establish the Young Kings so that way we can give those students support that they need," Smith said. And also just help them along the way to reach the ultimate goal, which is graduation."
According to UNO 8.6% of students are black, and out of those black students about 4 in every 10 are men.
Senior Jabin Moore says he sees the benefits of the program.
"You're kind of going through the process with someone else that understands you," he said. That makes it a lot easier because you don't feel like you're in it alone."
UNO declined to give us the retention rates of black male students, but university officials say retention rates for black male students have increased by 60% since fall 2018.
Smith says, having more support as a freshmen would have made a difference when he was in college.
"There was just so much support that I needed in the very beginning that I wasn't aware of, [and] having that mentorship could've help groom me to be a better college student."
According to College Factual, 47% of overall students graduated over a 6 year period at UNO.
In 2016, 76 black male students graduated, 82 the following year and in 2018, 90 black male students graduated.
"Having a whole group of students that are kind of in the same boat as you I think that will help with that support and making you feel like this is something that's possible that I can do,: Moore said.
The Young Kings program will kick off in August with a welcome brunch for all incoming freshmen.