|dc.description.abstract||Achievement, opportunity, and access gaps impacting students of color continue despite numerous studies spanning decades seeking to understand and determine solutions. Researchers’ studies focus on ways urban youth are often viewed with deficit lenses, the increase in afterschool programs directly addressing character development and academic growth, the potential power of mentors of color, and the use of Hip-Hop and expressive arts as tools for engagement and learning.
This qualitative study explores the lived experiences of teenage mentors of color working in an elementary spoken word poetry and performance after-school program in an urban Midwest district. More specifically the study investigates how the experiences of mentors of color in the program impacts their own academic achievement in school, their relationships with school teachers, their future career aspirations, and perceptions of the way the program influences mentees.
Participants provided information on their experiences responding to paper and pencil surveys, participant logs, and one-on-one interviews. Profiles of each participant are presented, covering their interest and involvement in the program, and racial demographics.
Seven major themes emerged through analysis of data, along with numerous subthemes, directly addressing the studies sub-questions and more. Larger themes included: Academic Experiences, Teacher Empathy, Career Aspirations, Perception of Program Impact on Mentees, SelfConfidence, Culture, and Race and Power. These themes were explored through participant survey responses, participant logs, and one-on-one interview excerpts.
The study concludes with a summary of findings, implications for future studies, and reflection. After consideration of the overwhelming data collected the researcher concluded participants of this study reflect feeling mostly uplifted by their experiences in the program. However, lows were associated with feelings of inferiority based upon race, age, and traditional power dynamics.||en_US