Tonight President Obama is set to announce a new initiative meant to help more African American students finish high school and graduate from college.
The program, called the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, will coordinate with several federal agencies to create a range of education programs for black students, according to a senior administration official. The program would also work with the White House's initiative on historically black colleges. There were not many specific details offered on how the program would work and who would run it.
The unveiling of the program will happen this evening when President Obama addresses the Urban League's annual conference in New Orleans. A study from the civil rights group released last week found that African-American turnout in November could be the difference in Obama winning in several key states, such as Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina.
Nationally, only about 63.5 percent of black students graduate from high school on time, compared to 91.8 percent of Asian-American students and 82 percent of whites.
The black dropout rate for black high school students has long been disproportionately higher than for their white counterparts. In 2009, 4.8 percent of blacks between ages 15 and 24 dropped out of grades 10 through 12, compared with 2.4 percent for white students.