Insights into the Talents, Realities, and Needs of Young Men of Color


Planning Phase

During the project planning phase, the research team held a series of planning meetings and conference calls to develop and finalize the official Project Work Plan with the sponsoring organizations, The California Endowment and Open Society Foundations. Discussions were centered on project timeline, objectives, the research agenda, anticipated constraints, project-management protocols, and project schedule.

Research Design

During this phase, the research team designed and developed all of the appropriate data collection instruments (recruitment communications, screener, pre-focus group surveys and moderator guides) for the project. MEE also conducted a videotaped, trial focus group in Philadelphia to test the effectiveness of the moderator’s guide and timing of the focus groups.

Participant Recruitment

In order to ensure that the research participants were from urban neighborhoods in the lowest quintile of the U.S. population for income, MEE utilized Microsoft Map Point 2013 to identify zip codes that contained Census tracts with average yearly household incomes under $40k and over-index in the numbers of African American, Hispanics and Asians. Eligible young men, ages 18 to 24, recruited in partnership with community-based organizations (CBOs) and schools either located in or servicing youth from the following targeted Zip Codes:

Los Angeles/Long Beach: 90002, 90008, 90016, 90018, 90019, 90042, 90043, 90044, 90047, 90059, 90220, 90221, 90301, 90802, 90804, 90805, 90806, 90813
Oakland/Richmond: 94601, 94603, 94607, 94612, 94621, 94801, 94804, 94806
New York City: 10451, 10452, 10453, 10454, 10455, 10456, 10457, 10458, 10463, 10466, 10467, 10468, 10469, 10474, 10025, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10037, 10039
Baltimore: 21202, 21206, 21213, 21215, 21216, 21217, 21218
Atlanta: 30310, 30311, 30312, 30313, 30314, 30315, 30316, 30318, 30331, 30337, 30344, 30344
New Orleans: 70058, 70094, 70114, 70115, 70117, 70118, 70119, 70125, 70127
Detroit 48203, 48205, 48207, 48208, 48210, 48213, 48214, 48215, 48219, 48223, 48224, 48227, 48228, 48234


MEE developed the plan for focus group recruiting. It included:

Recruitment of members of the target population (based on the US Census Data, the research profile and screener)
Facilities coordination and logistics, pre-, during and post-focus groups
Participant consent and release forms
Participant compensation

Focus Group Moderation

MEE conducted a series of videotaped focus groups with African-American and Latino males in the cities above. At least one of the focus group moderators was the same ethnicity as the participants. Each group contained four or five participants and lasted approximately two hours. All groups were set up so that note takers could privately observe the groups in action.

The MEE Project Team also conducted five to ten-minute individual interviews with a subset of focus group participants before and after the group sessions. All participants completed a lifestyle survey prior to the focus group; data from this survey is included in the report’s findings and recommendations.

Data Coding and Analysis

The focus group research was comprehensively coded (via a combination of written notes and review of more than twenty hours of raw video footage) and analyzed using MEE’s extensive multi-level process. It began with writing content summaries for each group. Coders, researchers and the video editor carefully identified themes and sub-themes that were used in later analysis to draw conclusions, including comparisons across groups.