Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


James M. Mandiberg

Committee Members

Caroline Gelman

Alexis Kuerbis

Quincy Mills

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Place and Environment | Social Work


Social Enterprise, Social Innovation, Proof of Concept, Black and Latinx, Predominantly White Institution, Barbershop


Black and Latinx male retention in post-secondary institutions, particularly predominantly white institutions (PWI), remains a critical social problem. Even though many PWIs set up structures to welcome and support Black and Latinx males, those structures are defined and created through dominant cultural norms. They have been challenged to mitigate the individualized facets of disengagement. A social innovation, proof of concept model was conceptualized, designed, and developed alongside Black and Latinx males in college. Social innovation is defined as a new way of approaching long standing and complex problems. Proof of concept (PoC) helps to validate that processes and designs are feasible for application in a broader context.

This dissertation outlines the design process used to create a social innovation barbershop model as a solution-based effort to the institutional problem of Black and Latinx male retention in college. Research of this POC was conducted at Bard College; a small, liberal arts PWI. The research investigated the design of a student informed and led campus barbershop, and how that space serves as a platform for meaning making for Black and Latinx young men. Research utilized non-prescriptive journals written by participants that focused on their individual use, understanding, and meaning of the space. The goal of the research was to further inform the design of the barbershop model.