The Difference

Throughout 2014

Fort Wayne, Ind., is a diverse community. With nearly 25% non-white residents, it’s one of the most diverse cities in Indiana. 

But there is a wide achievement gap between black men and boys in Fort Wayne and other men in the community. From education to incarceration, they’re generally worse off than their peers.

But why? What factors make the difference in the lives of African-American men in Fort Wayne?

Throughout 2014, WBOI hopes to shine a light on the challenges the community faces in closing the achievement gap. And we’ll meet the people dedicating their lives to making a difference.

This project aims to take a broad survey of Fort Wayne’s African-American community as we highlight the personal stories behind the statistics.



The Difference
12:43 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Black Barbershop Health Initiative Offers Free Screenings for Men of Color

42 year old Marcus Wilkes gets his blood sugar tested at Unity Barbershop in Fort Wayne.
Credit Virginia Alvino / WBOI News

Many black men throughout Indiana going to get a haircut this weekend were also able to receive a free health screening. The 4th annual Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative was held Saturday across the state.  

According to the Indiana Department of Health, black men have the highest mortality rate of any racial group.And many don't go to the doctor. 

That's according to Foundation One. 

Read more
The Difference
4:22 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

In "Race for Results," African-Americans are Falling Behind

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its "Race for Results" report on Tuesday.
Credit Courtesy / Annie E. Casey Foundation

As we reported earlier this week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its latest study examining how kids of different races fare when it comes to meeting developmental milestones on time.

The findings are striking, though not necessarily surprising.

Black, Latino, and Native American children are lagging behind – in some cases, far behind their white and Asian-American peers.

Read more
The Difference
5:43 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Report Finds Indiana Among Worst States for Black Youth

The "Race for Results" report released Tuesday assigned scores from 0-1000 measuring child progression and opportunity in the U.S. Indiana ranked among the worst states for black youth.
Credit "Race for Results" / Annie E. Casey Foundation

A new study released Tuesday finds Indiana among the ten worst states for black children, highlighting the disparity in opportunity between African-American youth and their peers.

The policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, titled "Race for Results," measures 12 factors in an effort to chart child progression nationwide. Those include everything from reading proficiency to graduation rates to the number of children living near or below the federal poverty level.

Read more
The Difference
8:00 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Interview: IU's Russell Skiba on Research Showing Black Students More Likely to be Suspended

Dr. Russell Skiba, professor of Counseling and Educational Psychology, and Director of the Equity Project at Indiana University.
Credit Russell Skiba

Researchers have known for years that black male students are disciplined in schools more frequently than their white peers.

New research from Indiana University confirms that gap exists nationwide, but it goes a step further – black girls, Latinos, and gay students are also at risk of being over-referred and suspended from school.

The new studies find suspensions are often given for relatively small offenses, things like loitering and dress code violations.

Read more
The Difference
1:43 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

New IU Research Sharpens Focus on Discipline Disparity in Schools

A series of research papers examining the disparities in school disciplinary practices released earlier this month show students of color are suspended at much higher rates. The findings were released by the Equity Project at Indiana University.

The new series of briefing papers reinforces what has been acknowledged by researchers for years – that young men of color are being over-referred and receive higher rates of out of school suspension. In Indiana, black male students are two to three-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended.

Read more
The Difference
6:00 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Obama Launches Initiative To Provide Opportunities For Young Men of Color

President Obama announcing "My Brother's Keeper" at the White House.

President Obama Thursday announced a new initiative to provide opportunities for young men of color who are underachieving compared to their peers.

Obama is calling for collaboration from foundations, corporations, and community leaders to address the nationwide gap.

The “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is aimed at helping black and latino boys stay in school and out of the criminal justice system - and to improve their access to higher education.

In an announcement Thursday, President Obama said that the nation has gotten used to the shocking statistics.

Read more
The Difference
1:47 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

The Difference: Growing Up Without a Role Model, Now Ready to Be One

James Trimble and Dionee White after Dionee's basketball game - he plays for Washington Elementary.
Credit Virginia Alvino / WBOI News

Throughout 2014 WBOI is digging deeper into the reasons behind the achievement gap between black males and their peers in Fort Wayne and meeting the people working to make a change. We’re calling our project “The Difference.” 

In Fort Wayne, the number of potential roadblocks to academic and social development for some African-American boys is vast. Poverty, stereotyping, recidivism, cultural differences: each can have an impact on how a child learns and grows.

Read more
The Difference
2:05 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

The Difference: How Mentors Can Help Close the Achievement Gap

Diontre Collins-Jones, high school freshman and member of My Brother's Keeper
Credit Virginia Alvino

All this week—and throughout 2014—WBOI is digging deeper into the reasons behind the achievement gap between black males and their peers in Fort Wayne and meeting the people working to make a change. We're calling the project "The Difference."

In Indiana, just 49 percent of black males graduate high school compared to 80 percent of their white peers. That number is improving, but it's still the seventh widest graduation gap in the country.

Read more
The Difference
7:59 am
Tue February 4, 2014

The Difference: How One Man Intervenes to Keep Kids Out of Prison

Source: Indiana Department of Corrections
Credit Virginia Alvino

All this week—and throughout 2014—WBOI News is digging deeper into the reasons behind the achievement gap between black males and their peers in Fort Wayne and meeting the people working to make a change. We’re calling the project “The Difference.”

It can be hard to get out of the legal system once you’re in it – and for black youth it can be especially challenging.

Read more
The Difference
1:20 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

The Difference: Where Fort Wayne Stands Now

Pastor Luther Whitfield of the New Covenant Worship Center
Credit Virginia Alvino

There's a wide achievement gap between black males in Fort Wayne and other men in the community. From academics to unemployment, black men in the city generally face more challenges to finding success than their peers.

Throughout 2014, WBOI hopes to shine a light on those challenges, and possible solutions, in a project we're calling "The Difference."

We begin by trying to understand some of the broad trends in Fort Wayne's African-American community, while meeting a few of the people trying to be difference-makers. We start by heading to church.

Read more