Higher Education Research Summer 2015

Promising Programs Statewide: Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville State University: Boosting Bronco Brothers (B3), Bronco MILE, and My Brother’s Peer-Keepers


          As outlined in Chapter 1, African American males have among the lowest attainment rates of minority peer groups. This is a troubling fact that has had tremendous impact on our economic well-being. This is why the challenge of providing African American males with the education necessary for success in the workforce has become a national priority. Numerous efforts are underway nationwide to encourage academic and professional success among minority males and many excellent examples can be found in North Carolina. Many young African American males face challenges navigating, first, the college application and enrollment process, but also the academic process that leads, ultimately, to degree completion. Several programs have been established across the state to fill this void and to support and encourage African American males as they earn a post-secondary degree and find the high-skill employment and professional success for which they are trained.

Fayetteville State University (FSU) is a historically black college within the University of North Carolina system. FSU offers numerous programs designed to improve the success rates of its predominantly African American student body, for example, Boosting Bronco Brothers (B3), the Bronco MILE, and My Brother’s Peer-Keepers, all of which engage African American males specifically. Data collected by FSU indicate that these programs are succeeding. For example, 92 percent of students who participated in B3 during the 2013-2014 academic year finished in good academic standing. In addition, the majority of members of Bronco MILE had higher cumulative GPAs than their non-member counterparts and many of them held leadership positions on campus, including student body president. Participants also are more likely to engage in service-learning and travel study opportunities.1 Though these programs are relatively new, early results indicate that they are working and that the target demographic–young African American males–is reaping the benefits academically, personally, and professionally.

Boostbroncobrothersing Bronco Brothers (B3)

Boosting Bronco Brothers, or B3, is a three-day program for freshman males at FSU with the mission to ease the transition into college life by introducing support networks and building a strong community among peers and mentors.2This is achieved through workshops, networking opportunities with peer leaders, and bonding experiences through outdoor adventures. In its first year, 2012, 66 students took part in B3 and by the following year, the number of participants grew to 105.

The mission of the Bronco MILE (Male Initiative on Leadership and Excellence) is to create supportive personal and educational conditions that will allow its young male participants to excel. Bronco MILE is designed to support and develop the entire student by providing a community of engaged and dedicated students and offering academic support services as well as leadership development opportunities. The program, which also began in 2012, has grown considerably. Twenty students comprised the program’s inaugural class, while more than 200 students now participate.3By the end of the first semester of freshman year, B3 participants transition into Bronco MILE.4


Critical to achieving academic success in college is a support network of peers. Building camaraderie and learning from those who have gone through the college ropes before is an important element of peer support provided by My Brother’s Peer-Keepers. This program is at the heart of FSU’s male initiatives by functioning as a “GPS,” guiding participants and helping them make sound personal and academic decisions on their way to degree completion.5 Female students at FSU are also supported through similar programs. For example, the Bronco MILE’s partner program is called Saving Our Sisters (SOS) and provides similar and often collaborative support services. In addition, FSU’s female students are supported by a program modeled after B3 called S3 (Strong Sisters Soaring), which provides academic support for first year females.6


According to staff members within FSU’s Office of Student Retention, which houses the B3 and Bronco MILE programs, the programs have seen such immediate success for a few important reasons:7

  • The programs have an open door policy that allows students to visit with any staff member at any time, which is particularly important in addressing personal or academic matters requiring immediate attention.
  • Each B3 student is assigned a peer mentor in the Bronco MILE program. The relationships between mentor and mentee are crucial and can provide purpose and guidance for both parties.
  • Participation in these programs offers opportunities for cultural immersion, something that is often not readily available for African American males. While the achievement gap between minority males and their white counterparts is well-documented through data, what some call the “cultural gap” often goes without much attention. Many African American males do not have the opportunity to travel and experience culturally and educationally significant locations, enriching their academic and personal perspectives.
  • Grade alerts are issued and responded to immediately. This early warning system can help correct poor academic performance quickly and ensure students are on track for degree completion.
  • Bronco MILE and B3 students have access to a study lounge, which offers an important sense of place. A physical place builds community and begins to eliminate some pervasive stereotypes among African American males that being studious is in some way inconsistent with their cultural perspective of masculinity.
  • Each participant in the programs receives a unique bow tie at the end of the fall semester to indicate inclusion and success in the program. This is another important way to build community and a sense of purpose and belonging.

Interview with Dr. Jason DeSousa, FSU Assistant Vice Chancellor of Retention, and FSU Students

While the B3 and Bronco MILE Initiatives have achieved a great deal of success in their first years in existence, they must overcome significant barriers to do so. For example, an ongoing challenge is helping students address their education proactively instead of reactively. In addition, as is often the case, funding is a substantial challenge, both in terms of supporting programmatic activities but also from a personal standpoint because students often do not have the financial means to buy educational supplies and cover tuition.



Introduction         Part One         Part Two        Part Three

Promising Programs Statewide: Fayetteville State University 

Promising Programs Statewide: Elizabeth City State University

Promising Programs Statewide: College of The Albemarle 

Promising Programs Statewide: Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

Promising Programs Statewide: Bladen Community College 

Snapshot: Veteran and Military Students

Promising Programs Statewide: UNC-Greensboro

Promising Programs Statewide: Bennett College

Promising Programs Statewide: University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Promising Programs Statewide: University of North Carolina at Pembroke


Michelle Goryn is a writer and public policy consultant in Raleigh, NC.

Paige C. Worsham is Senior Policy Counsel with the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research and conducted the interviews and convenings for this project.

The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research is grateful to numerous, generous supporters. Major funding for this project is provided by the Lumina Foundation for Education, with additional funding from  the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund, and the Hillsdale Fund. 

Show 7 footnotes

  1. Male Initiative website, Fayetteville State University, http://www.uncfsu.edu/male-initiative/about-us.
  2. Boosting Bronco Brothers website, Fayetteville State University, ttp://www.uncfsu.edu/male-initiative/boosting-bronco-brothers.
  3. Bronco MILE website, Fayetteville State University, http://www.uncfsu.edu/male-initiative/bronco-mile.
  4. “Signature Programs and Experiences,” Office of Student Retention handout, Fayetteville State University.
  5. Male Initiative website, Fayetteville State University, http://www.uncfsu.edu/male-initiative/about-us.
  6. Testimony by Dr. Jason DeSousa to U.S. Senate Committee on Education, Labor, and Pensions, May 13, 2014, www.uncfsu.edu/Documents/maleinitiative/DeSousa%20HELP%20Senate%20Testimony%5b1%5d.pdf.
  7. Interview with Dr. Jason DeSousa, FSU Assistant Vice Chancellor of Retention, and FSU Students

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Promising Programs Statewide: Elizabeth City State University 

by Michelle Goryn, with Paige C. Worsham on June 8, 2015