Friday, October 31, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: Carolyn Grunst

This May Carolyn Grunst moved into one of the new housing developments in the Cabrini Green neighborhood. Curious about the neighborhood and eager to find a way to engage with local youth Carolyn and her boyfriend, fellow 1st year tutor Mitch Holzrichter gave Cabrini Connections a call, seeking to get involved. Carolyn dove right in and, despite being her first year in our program, she has been working with her student, Malina Tate like a veteran youth worker. Remarkably, Malina is the first student that she has ever tutored! Since the start of the program this year, Carolyn has taken Malina, who is in the 8th grade not only to see the White Sox, but also to numerous high school visits and information sessions to ensure that Malina gets into a high school that will challenge and inspire her, rather than her underperforming neighborhood high school. Carolyn has been proactive, meeting with Malina’s teachers, and school guidance counselors to ensure that they are addressing her needs.

Carolyn, who just received her law degree from the prestigious University of Michigan Law School, is currently working as an attorney at the firm of Bell, Boyd and Lloyd, where she specializes in real estate law. Of her numerous projects, she enjoys her public- private work the most, projects where she works to bring new infrastructure projects, things like public transit and clean water, to neighborhoods that lack these fundamental resources.

Since Malina wants to be a lawyer as well, following in her mentor’s footsteps, building a relationship with Carolyn will give her valuable insights on the field of law and give her an enlightened perspective of what it takes to be a lawyer, beginning now in the 8th grade! This is an incredible opportunity for Malina and she is extremely excited to be paired up with such a dynamic and caring mentor.

Besides serving as a role model for Malina , Carolyn has encouraged Malina to follow in her footsteps and document everything they do on SVHATS, both during tutoring sessions and outside of tutoring. This will help the two of them, as well as Cabrini Connections staff, track their progress as Malina begins to search for employment, colleges and enter a career.

We are so thankful for volunteers like Carolyn who jump right in and take advantage of all the resources that we have to offer here at Cabrini Connections, taking initiative and working to build a meaningful relationship with their students right off the bat! Thanks Carolyn! We’re glad you’re with us!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Student Spotlight: Aarion Woods

17 year old Aarion Woods is a Junior at the Von Steuben Metro Science Center on the North Side. It is his first year with the program and he’s glad to be involved. He’s paired up with one of our new tutors, Mike Ozmeral, who for the last 3 years has served as the Vice President of Reyes Holdings. Aarion consistently inspires other students through his sense of humor and respectful demeanor. He has been really taking advantage of the resources found here at Cabrini Connections, using SVHATS to help him secure a job to help him with expenses. In fact, he and his tutor have been putting together a resume that he can use to show off his assets to potential employers. One of these assets is his fluency in French.

In fact Aarion was the first student in his school to complete French I, French II and French III in the same year. Eventually he hopes to attend a college in the Chicago area such as Chicago State University, the University of Illinois-Chicago or perhaps Northwestern University. At college he’s very excited about the prospect of continuing his study of French and especially traveling abroad, perhaps to the French-speaking countries of Cameroon, Martinique or France.

Outside of school Aarion likes to write poetry, which he uses as an outlet for his thoughts and often shares with friends and family. We’re very glad that Aarion is making the most of his time here with us and we look forward to working with him in his job and college searches so that he can maximize his potential. Congratulations Aarion, you’re in the student spotlight!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Increasing Youth Participation

Hey everyone! I just wanted to write a bit today about an issue we've been dealing with here at Cabrini Connections and that is the issue of youth participation and how to get our youth to take more ownership of the program. I'm certain this is a common problem that youth workers are faced with and thus am reaching out here to try to share some ideas for potential solutions and ask for suggestions from you all. Basically we feel sometimes that we are offering an abundance of opportunities for our youth that they are failing to take advantage of. For instance, I have been spearheading a college prep support program that has involved campus visits to various colleges in the region as well as encouraging youth to take advantage of on-site college counselors and test-prep materials. Additionally we are coordinating weekend application workshops that will bring our seniors together with volunteers who will help them craft admissions essays, personal statements and otherwise help the students put together top-notch college applications. However, the interest student's expressed beforehand has not converted into attendance and involvement with our various offerings.

We also have not had the levels of participation we would like to see in a recent Halloween essay contest or in some of our clubs such as Art, Tech and Writing clubs. Since kids already earn incentives for participating in our programs, including points redeemable for cash upon graduation from our program, snacks and assorted prizes, we were thinking that perhaps we need to make these incentives more salient or emphasize them more, particularly the points. However, being a non-profit with limited resources, upping the ante for incentives seems like a mis-allocation of resources in the short-term and may lead us down a slippery-slope where the kids expect to be rewarded for their participation, which doesn't benefit anyone, particularly when their own outcomes stemming from their participation should be the primary incentive (i.e. getting better grades, staying out of trouble, opportunities to participate in awesome clubs, help finding jobs & getting into colleges, careers...etc).

Thus I've been thinking that rather than impose a new incentive structure or other apparatus from above, we should be working more effectively to empower the kids we're working with so that they are the ones working together to solve these types of problems. We want to get our youth to realize that this is their program and that they have the right to determine its development so as to maximize positive outcomes for the youth themselves. I have been thinking of various ways to do this and, after consulting with a number of our students, have decided that perhaps the best way to do this is to start what I'm tentatively deeming a "Youth Leadership Council" wherein a number of students, perhaps 6 who will proportionally represent our youth in terms of gender and grade level (i.e. a good mix of jr highers and high schoolers), will convene weekly to discuss issues of importance to Cabrini Connections (such as the aforementioned lack of participation), come up with solutions and work with staff and other students to implement those solutions. I'm thinking of holding elections in a couple weeks to piggy-back off the excitement surrounding the presidential election, which will also give students a chance to campaign, give speeches, get to know the other students and engage more meaningfully with the program. Eventually, I'm hoping to develop enough leadership skills in these youth and get them to really know what it takes to run our program, that they can send a liaison to our board meetings to ensure the youth have an informed say in the decision making at every level.

Basically I'm hoping the success of this Youth Leadership Council will catalyze a shift in the way we run our program from that of a vertical system of power, wherein we staff have unchallenged authority to a more egalitarian and horizontal framework, wherein youth set the agenda, decide on issues and activities and have joint accountability with the staff. In this way we can not only enhance youth participation and allow them to develop their leadership skills, but accomplish more as an organization by converting them into change agents who begin to take on more responsibility and encourage the rest of the youth to do likewise.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Pawlik and Alice Toth

For this week’s volunteer spotlight, Cabrini Connections is proud to celebrate our two tech club volunteers, Steve Pawlik and Alice Toth. Both are new volunteers this year and come from technology backgrounds. Steve currently works for Midway Games, where he has been putting the finishing touches on the newly released Blitz II: The League, a popular football game recently released for PS2 and Xbox 360. Alice on the other hand designs and develops a wide variety of software, from software for nuclear power plants to social networking sites. Due to the cutting edge nature of her work, she cannot share even basic information about her many projects, however it is clear that she is doing important work and for that, we are very lucky to have her volunteering her time with us at Cabrini Connections.

Both Steve and Alice believe deeply in the importance of mentoring and are committed to sharing their unique talents with the youth at Cabrini Connections by helping them gain marketable technology skills in a fun and rewarding environment. In fact, Steve admitted to me that, during his transition into the extremely competitive field of software development he only made it through due to a few mentors in high places who had faith in him and gave him the guidance he needed to be the successful game developer he is now. Alice on the other hand points back to her time as a graduate student at Virginia Tech where she was encouraged to live out their school motto of “We Serve.” Since graduating, she has sought out unique ways to serve youth where she can use and share her talents. One place where she volunteered her time before starting at Cabrini Connections was “I see stars,” a Chicago program that introduces technology to inner-city youth aged 18-23 through a 3 month long intensive training that teaches them enough programming basics to apply for entry level jobs in software engineering. She was inspired by this experience at “I see stars” because she was able to “open not only their eyes to new possibilities but also their minds.”

Steve and Alice are embarking on a similar quest here with their Cabrini Connections' “Tech Club.” Steve tells me that one of their goals is to share with our kids the growing importance of technology and how computers can be used to enhance everything from writing letters to editing film and photography. With this first year pilot program, they aim to give youth skills that will help them not only in school, but in their future careers while at the same time keeping the material entertaining enough to keep the youth engaged… a fine line to walk indeed! However, only a handful of kids are taking advantage of the incredible opportunities being offered by tech club, something Steve and Alice wish to change as soon as possible through increased recruiting and generating buzz about their club through partnerships with other clubs such as art club. Therefore, given the growing importance of technology in every facet of our lives we encourage our mentors to talk to their students about the possibility of getting involved in tech club and gaining some skills that will surely benefit them on their roads to successful careers. Thanks again Steve and Alice and keep up the great work!
Check out the tech club blog here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Student Spotlight: Charles Thomas

Charles is a senior at Chicago International Charter School Northtown Academy and has been with Cabrini Connections since 7th grade. He’s thinking about going to college next year and is interested in business, so that perhaps down the road he can get into entertainment and open his own club. However, he appreciates the necessity of two things in our rapidly changing business environment: the need to embrace new technologies and the benefit of speaking another language. This is why he hopes to study business and technology next year at school along with improving his fluency in Spanish. He is not sure where he wants to go but he is considering the University of Michigan, Westwood College and Georgia Tech.

One of the things that opened his eyes to the importance of learning about different cultures was a trip he took with a fellow Cabrini Connections senior, LaFaye Garth, to Ireland. He and LaFaye won an essay contest we sponsored during his sophomore year that allowed them to join a small group of other kids on an all-expenses paid trip to Ireland where they toured the country, learned about Irish culture and interacted with kids from other tutor/mentor programs throughout Europe. During the trip, they spent one week living with a family in Galway and another week living with a different family in a rural area where Charles was able to hike up a mountain. This experience opened his eyes to the way people live outside of America, not only the Irish but the other European students he met during the program. Charles is glad to have had the opportunity to participate in this program and others at Cabrini Connections. For Charles, Cabrini Connections “helps me stay focused and teaches me new things, especially writing.” We hope that Charles will continue to focus on the future after he graduates from the program and will stay connected to his mentor of 6 years, Tony Carozza, who continues to do whatever it takes for Charles to achieve his goals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Student Spotlight: Dijana Smith

11th grader Dijana Smith has been with Cabrini Connections since the 7th grade. Before that, she participated in a program at the local YMCA that feeds into our program, so she has been benefiting from involvement with a committed mentor from a young age. She currently goes to Lincoln Park High School where she participates in student council and yoga club as well as running for the school track team. At school, her favorite subjects are math and chemistry. In fact, ever since her freshman year when she was inspired by her teacher, Ms. Metropolis, she has wanted to be a high school math teacher. She plans on attending DePaul University, which she visited recently on a special Cabrini Connections college visit, to study math and education so that she can help others gain her same passion and appreciation for mathematics.

For Dijana, Cabrini Connections is a place that offers a safe, “encouraging environment to work on her homework and meet a lot of really cool people.” Dijana realizes the impact that mentoring programs have on the lives of youth like herself and has expressed interest in staying involved with Cabrini Connections as a mentor while she attends DePaul University in Lincoln Park. She hopes to be like her mentor, Heather Coleman, in sharing her time and skills with young people who can benefit from having a dedicated mentor in their lives to help show them the way. We look forward to helping Dijana not only graduate high school and get into college, but helping her to be the best possible mentor she can be so she can inspire others to succeed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Depaul College Visit

On Columbus Day (or as the Venezuelans call it, the Day of Indigenous Resistence) my Tutor/Mentor Connection colleague Nicole and I accompanied a group of potentially college bound students from Cabrini Connections on a private visit to Depaul University. I set up this visit (and numerous others) to give the kids an opportunity to learn more about the different options they will be presented with once they graduate high school. On this particular visit, our students, Yolanda (Yoyo), Breonca
(Beebee), Cierria (Cici), Dijana and Charles, learned about the potential advantages and disadvantages of attending a large private Vincentian university right smack dab in the middle of Lincoln Park. I was impressed by the diversity of the student body and their emphasis on learning through service. The kids were very interested to learn that according to Princeton Review, Depaul has the most diverse student body in the nation as well as some of the happiest students.

Yoyo, being interested in business and marketing in particular was happy to find out that business is one of the most popular areas of study at DePaul. Cierria, on the other hand, was surprised with the lack of courses offered in design, particularly fashion design. For Dijana, our current student in the spotlight, this visit served to confirm her desire to attend Depaul once she graduates so that she can study education and mathematics to prepare for a rewarding career as a High School math teacher. During our visit, Dijana made particular inquiries about dorms, trying to figure out which of the various living and learning communities would be best for her. We look forward to helping her set up these future visits if necessary and ensuring that she has adequate resources while working on her Depaul application.

It was clear that during our visit, our students learned a great deal about not only the college admissions process but the whole college experience. Since we scheduled the visit on a day where Depaul students were in school, but Chicago Public School students had off, our kids were able to see students hastily making their way from class to class, relaxing in the quad, signing petitions in the student union and organizing fundraisers in the dining hall. Though everyone said that the experience was beneficial, it was especially encouraging to hear that every one of our students is planning on attending the next college visit I've planned, which will be next Friday, Oct 24th, at Westwood College. In fact, the kids don't know it yet, but I'm planning on having them tell the rest of the students about how eye-opening their Depaul University visit was at our tutoring sessions this week in order to ensure a better turnout to our upcoming visits (which include Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago State University, University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University).

While on the subject of college preperation, I'm in the process of compiling a college prep library for our high school students that will consist of ACT and SAT prep books/CDs, princeton review and other guides to colleges, SAT subject test prep guides as well as a collection of successful admissions essays from various schools. Therefore, if you have any of the materials that I just mentioned, and I know you must if you are either attending college now or are a graduate, please consider donating them to Cabrini Connections so that our kids might benefit. Please email me at, call me at 312-492-9614 or leave me a comment here on the blog and we can coordinate a way to get your college prep materials in the hands of some kids who could really benefit from them. Thanks so much for your time and generosity. I hope to be hearing from you soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole Gordon

This week, we’d like to put the volunteer spotlight on Nicole Gordon! This is Nicole’s third year as a tutor here at Cabrini Connections where she’s been offering help and guidance to LaRoyce Ratcliff (a.k.a. Chucky), who started the program the same time that she did. She has been very flexible with both Cabrini Connections and Chucky, her student, trying to accommodate Chucky’s schedule as well as the fact that he has a very long commute to Cabrini Connections each week. Nicole and her husband, Peter John Flory (pictured below with Nicole and Chucky) have been enthusiastic volunteers and mentors constantly offering to go above and beyond. For example, Nicole is involved with the art club, which meets on Monday nights. There, she shares her considerable artistic talent with our youth, three of whom are pictured with her above, encouraging them to develop their own skills and techniques.

We are especially lucky to have Nicole with us because she is a professionally trained, up and coming Chicago-area artist! She studied art in Italy at Lorenzo Medici University and then got her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Michigan. Check out her amazing art on her website or in a number of galleries, museums, collections or public facades around the Midwest and East Coast. Astute viewers may note that her unusual style is fueled by inspiration from well-known Medieval and Renaissance artists. Her artwork explores the complexity of human nature and illustrates human weakness throughout history allowing viewers to have the opportunity to study and question, themes that she emphasizes as she works with our youth .

Thanks Nicole for lending your time and talents here at Cabrini Connections!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Radical Math

Hey all (and particularly those in education)-- So as I was going through the extensive collection of web links (nearly 1500) that the Tutor/Mentor Connection has compiled to help our students and mentors easily access resources on the internet, I came across one particularly interesting link I'd like to share with you all. I don't know about you all, but I've never really been a math person. This makes it particularly difficult for me to get our students excited about doing their math homework during tutoring sessions, even on the off chance that I actually retained enough trig, calc, agrebra...etc to be able to help them in any meaningful way. For me, and I suspect more than a few others, my distaste for math was primarily because, unlike science or social studies, I didn't really see any potentially useful real-life application of the knowledge, particularly in my more advanced courses. Even if I could utilize trig in real life and figure out how tall a building was based on its shadow, I wasn't convinced that applied trig was going to change the world; Thankfully, the folks at "Radical Math" believe otherwise.

Radical Math is a resource for educators who are interested in integrating issues of social and economic justice into their math classes and curriculum. If you check out you'll find over 700 lesson plans, charts, data sets, graphs...etc that allow teachers to spice up their math instruction by bringing these ideas into the classroom.

So how does one combine social/economic justice issues with math you ask??? Let me give you an example that is currently part of the curriculum at Chicago's own Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice.

I'm confident most of my readers are aware of the events surrounding the so-called Jena 6, if not (which is understandable since the trial has been more or less absent from mainstream media), it is summarized on page 4 of this document, which is a lesson plan that uses the Jena 6 to engage students a variety of subjects. The mathmatics component of the lesson plan teaches kids combinatorics (i.e. permutations, combinations n C r..etc) by having students perform such operations as:

Determine the probability of randomly selecting a 12-person, all-white jury from a town
that is 85.6% white, 14.4% people of color (mainly African American), of 2,154 adults
(2000 census)

and then generalizing the formula for combinatorics ( n C r )

This exercise also allows students to investigate the concepts of randomness and what it is like to "think like a mathematician while at the same time seeing how knowledge of fundamental mathematical concepts can lead to greater understanding of complex social justice issues like racism.

This is just one of hundreds of ways that Radical Math's curricula fuses social and economic justice issues with mathematical concepts to increase the relevance and understanding of both among students. Here, you can find some of the other ways they suggest augmenting math curricula with social and economic justice issues such as the following:

Prisons, racial profiling, death penalty
Poverty, minimum/living wage, sweatshops
Housing, gentrification, homeownership
War, defense budgets, military recruiting
Public Health: AIDS, asthma, health insurance, diabetes, smoking
Educational access, funding, testing, achievement gaps
Environment: pollution, hunger, food and water resources
Welfare, TANF

Man I wish my math teachers used some of this curricula instead of boring me out of my gourd for all these years! Have a great weekend everyone and please do a whole generation of kids a favor and tell the educators in your life about Radical Math, it just might help us eventually bring about some real change.

over and out

Monday, October 6, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: Alexandria Hill

Aquarius and former Cabrini Green resident Alexandria Hill was looking for a place to volunteer her time last year when she found out about Cabrini Connections. After finding out that we work with kids from the neighborhood where she spent part of her childhood, she was eager to get involved and so, after mentoring a student, Shaquita, last year, she offered to become one of our Wednesday night Volunteer Coordinators! Alexandria has repeatedly gone above and beyond her duties as Volunteer Coordinator and has demonstrated a true dedication to our kids and our organization. For example, over the summer Alex helped us organize our Welcome Back Brunch and 3 day long Edgewood College Experience. Last weekend, Alex woke up early to present a well-attended seminar at our Tutor Training Conference about student behavior, how to build boundaries and manage expectations in mentoring youth.

Alex is a recent graduate from Illinois State University where she studied psychology, which she says has helped her a great deal in working with our youth, particularly her background in behavior modification. During her time in college she volunteered at the Normal Public Library for their Partners in Reading program. There, she offered reading help to elementary school students.

Alex is currently working as a Senior Representative for Primerica Financial Services where she helps families get out of debt and build assets. When she’s not working or volunteering her time at Cabrini Connections, you can probably find Alex at Pepe’s, her favorite Mexican restaurant in Chicago and/or reading horror and suspense novels by her favorite authors Stephen King and Dean Koontz. In fact, when she was younger, she wrote poems and short stories inspired by her favorite authors and wanted to be, in her own words, “the female, black Stephen King.” As much as we’d love to read Alex’s twisted prose, we here at Cabrini Connections are glad that Alex has decided to dedicate herself to helping others find their way out of poverty, rather than just scaring the crap out of them.

Good article about racism in the NY Times today

Hey everyone, I just wanted to direct you all to a great little piece by Nicholas Kristof that's in today's New York Times. It addresses some of the same issues surrounding racism that I discussed in my recent post in relation to the election. It cites a few more interesting papers that deal with racism in the hiring process for black applicants. The crux of his argument is that, in general, we have implicit racial biases that affect our behavior and cognition even though we may not be aware of their existence. Psychologists have termed the unconscious racial discrimination that occurs as a result of these biases "aversive racism" and research has shown that this type of racism has not declined significantly over time, despite the fact that conscious prejudice (or outright admitted racism) has in fact declined significantly. In other words, evidence shows that people still maintain unconscious racist beliefs yet do believe that they are racist... a phenomenon that Kristof dubs "Racism Without Racists".

If the earlier link doesn't work, the article can be found here:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Student Spotlight: Eboni Rivera

One student who has taken full advantage of all that Cabrini Connections has to offer is Eboni Rivera. She’s one of our graduating seniors and will be finishing up her 6th year here at Cabrini Connections. That means that she’s been with us since 7th grade, for the full duration of our program! She’s been paired up with her mentor, Susan, for the past 3 years and they have become a tight-knit pair, sharing everything from their birthdays, to nights out on the town!

Despite being actively pursued by elite schools like Northwestern University, Eboni, who attends Kenwood Academy High School, has her sights set on Florida A&M University, which she fell in love with during a campus visit last year. She hopes to be one of the first graduates of their brand new college of journalism where she plans to specialize in broadcast journalism. She has been diligently taking all of the required journalism classes at Kenwood and is active in both her school newspaper, and the Cabrini Connections writing club. Since her father is Puerto Rican and her mother African-American, she is particularly excited about engaging both aspects of her ethnic heritage at a historically black university located in a state with a large Latino population.

Eboni is also very active in her church, the Christ Universal Temple, where she participates in the Project A.C.H.I.E.V.E. program, a series of Saturday college prep seminars that offer: tutorial classes to prepare students for college placement tests and exams like the ACT and SAT, scholarship opportunities, as well as their annual tour of historically black colleges and universities. She visited Florida A&M through this program last year as well as Clark Atlanta University, her second choice school. We will be working with Eboni throughout the year during the college admissions process to ensure that she gets into her top choice schools and can negotiate the best financial aid possible.

Eboni tells me that “For me, Cabrini Connections is like a second home. I come here for everything I need. I can always use the internet, get help with my college applications, my math homework, and use whatever supplies I want.” Since Eboni will be the first to admit how much she has benefited from her relationship with her mentor and other resources here at Cabrini Connections, she and a friend from church, Kelly, are currently organizing a mentoring group at her church for girls ages 6-18. They hope to offer some of the same types of resources and relationships for at-risk girls in their south side community that Cabrini Connections offers to kids in the Cabrini Green neighborhood. We are so proud to have students like Eboni who are not only on the fast-track to success but are also making efforts to help others follow in their footsteps.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Knowing the Research: Racism in the Job Market

Hello everyone! So we are in our third week of tutoring here at Cabrini Connections this week and everything is running very smoothly! Our clubs are going well, we're getting a lot of student interest in our new college-prep curriculum and dozens of kids have signed up for our 5 scheduled college visits. Since our program is running so well, I thought I'd indulge and write a post about some recent research I read about discrimination in the job market. Since it's difficult enough to get a decent job these days, it's important to realize the unique disadvantages that African-American applicants face, particularly low-income applicants such as our students who already suffer a lack of resources and flexibility afforded to other job-seekers.

In the last 15 years or so, much research has tried to investigate the types of discrimination that job applicants of color face (particularly Blacks and Latinos). Arguments have been made claiming that the real reason why applicants of color are not offered jobs at a rate consistent with white applicants is the difference in skill and experience between the candidates (Farkas and Vicknair 1996; Neal and Johnson 1996). These studies also argue that racial inequality in wages is largely explained by differences in cognitive skill. However, a recent study by Pager, Western and Bonikowski of Princeton University demonstrated that in fact there is a significant racial preference for white candidates among hundreds of New York City employers when confronted with otherwise identical White, Latino and Black applicants.

In this study, Black, Latino and White men were recruited and then matched on age, height, verbal skills, interactional styles and physical attractiveness, were trained together and given fictitious resumes indicating identical educational accomplishment, work experience and neighborhood of residence. These so-called "testers" then presented themselves at a series of randomly selected job interviews as high school graduates with consistent work experience in entry-level jobs in order to see which applicants were more likely to be called-back for another interview and/or hired. Great care was made to ensure that every possible difference was controlled between the applicants in each set.

After the each matched set of Black, Latino and White applicants interviewed individually at 171 NYC employers, their call-backs were tallied up. Remarkably, the White applicant in each group received callbacks 31% of the time, more than the 25% callback rate of the Latino applicants and significantly more than the 15% callback rate of the Black applicants. Remember, these applicants were matched so that they were identical in every way, except their race... yet Black applicants were half as likely to get a job offer than White applicants! This suggests that a Black applicant would have to look twice as long for a job than an equally qualified White applicant!

Even more shocking than this was the second part of the experiment, where matched Black and Latino applicants applied for the same set of jobs as an equally qualified White applicant... except the White applicants were instructed to reveal that they had just been released from an 18 month prison stay for a drug felony (cocaine possession with intent to distribute). Amazingly, these white applicants with a criminal record got callbacks from 17% of the 171 employers, compared to 13% of employers for otherwise identical Black applicants with no criminal record!!

The results of this study, which are consistent with earlier work ( summarized in Heckman and Siegelman 1993) show that we are most certainly not yet living in what some social commentators are calling a "postracial" society. Clearly race continues to play a large role in the hiring practices of many employers, which puts qualified African-American applicants at a significant disadvantage compared to Whites and even Latinos. For this reason, we here at Cabrini Connections are committed to offering our students, who are overwhelmingly African-American, the resources they need to help surmount the additional challenges that Black youth face growing up in poverty. By getting these youth involved in one-on-one relationships with a dedicated mentor, it is our hope that our youth can benefit from access to their mentors' networks, which will give them a leg up in the quest for employment, college admission and future success in their chosen careers. We hope that these mentors can connect their mentees with jobs and pull them towards careers that they might otherwise be impeded from seeking.

It is a sad fact that we still have to deal with racism in today's society. However, rather than sweep it under the rug and ignore it's consequences, allowing it to fester and grow, studies like this one confront its effects head on, forcing us to address it's existence and actively combat it, knowing that, to quote Malcolm X, "all human beings are respected as such, regardless of their color".


Farkas, George. and K. Vicknair. 1996. “Appropriate Tests of Racial Wage
Discrimination Require Controls for Cognitive Skill: omment on Cancio, Evans,
and Maume.” American Sociological Review 61:557-60.

Heckman, James and Peter Siegelman. 1993. “The Urban Institute Audit Studies: Their Methods and Findings.” Pp. 187-258 in Clear and Convincing Evidence: Measurement of Discrimination in America, edited by Michael Fix and Raymond Struyk. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Neal, Derek, and William Johnson. 1996. “The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White
Wage Differences.” Journal of Political Economy 104:869-895.

Pagar, D., Western, B., Bonikowski, B. (2006) Race at Work: Realities of Race and Criminal Record in the New York City Job Market. Report prepared for the 50th Anniversary of the New York City Commission on Human Rights.