African American males account for only 2 percent of the teaching force.

During his high-school days, no football game could start without Louis Blackmon III: the team’s center. Each play began with his snap.Though Blackmon was renowned for his hustle on the field, he didn’t put the same effort into the classroom. “In school, I was just an average guy,” Blackmon said. Typically, he pulled Cs, with a few Ds, at McDonogh 35 High School in New Orleans.

That led to heartbreak his senior year, when his ACT scores came back a few points below college-entrance standards. Almost overnight, he lost the attention of college scouts, who had told him he was a prime candidate for an athletic scholarship.

Yet today, Blackmon, now 21, is a standout student at Southern University at New Orleans, in theHonoré Center for Undergraduate Achievement, an intensive new program that gives full scholarships to young African American men who show promise despite unremarkable transcripts.

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