In its first year of its operation, the Rice University Youth Impact Program served 88 at-risk boys, consisting of 13 6th graders, 40 7th graders, and 35 8th graders. In terms of racial distribution, 90% of these youth were African-American, 5% were Hispanic, and 5% were from all other racial groups, including Caucasian and Asian-American. The Rice Youth Impact Program participants were comprised of middle school boys in the Houston Independent School District (Houston ISD). The ethnicity breakdown of the district is 28.5% African-American, 60.3% Hispanic, 8% Caucasian , and 3.2% Asian/Pacific Islander. Nearly 80% are economically disadvantaged, and 30% are considered Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
According to a study by the San Antonio-based Intercultural Development Research Association,
nearly 40% of the members of an entering freshman class in Houston do not make it to their senior year. As a group, Hispanics have the highest dropout rate in Texas — some 45%, according to the IDRC report. Hispanics also make up the largest percentage of the state’s 4.6 million public school students. The Intercultural Development Research Association noted that about 70% of the 2.7 million Texas students who left school during the group’s study period were Hispanic or black. These numbers are rising at an alarming rate, and this problem must be addressed at the middle school level, before the students reach high school.