A college preparatory program as investor in the academic social capital of black parents
In the world of finance an investor takes on risk by supplying capital to a company the investor believes to have a high potential for success. The purpose of this study was to understand Black parental academic social capital (what resources do parents have and/or need to support the academic success of their youth) and whether a university-delivered college preparatory program might, through its investments, increase Black parental school-based social capital. Parents in a program sponsored by a Midwestern university that is increasing the number of minoritized youth (Black, Latino/a and American Indian) who pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields is the focus of this study. This research project also sought to understand parental academic social capital generally.
This study employed qualitative research with a phenomenological lens to better understand Black parental social capital by interviewing parents of youth in a college preparatory program (Growing STEMs). These parents were interviewed regarding their general views of education, their interactions with their teen who participates in the program, as well as their interactions with the Growing STEMs program, teachers and administrators within the school their young person attends, and other parents.
Data were obtained from parent interviews, follow-up interviews, and a reflexive/reflective journal. Grand tour and prompt questions were used to guide the interviews. Data from the interviews were then subjected to two rounds of theme analysis to identify domain themes, then interrogation based on fit for answering the study's questions.
Black parents interviewed shared their experiences regarding school-site social capital and the social capital that exists in the home, and they shared how they invest their capital to improve academic outcomes for their children in spite of barriers. As a result, I was able to better understand the experiences of these Black parents of high achievers within schools, what might be done to improve access to social capital in schools, and to learn more about both how Growing STEMs has contributed, and how organizations of this type might better contribute, to the social capital of Black parents.