George Soros’ Open Society Foundations is one of several major foundations committed to changing the all-too-familiar statistics associated with the status of Black males. Soros has invested millions of dollars in the Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement, an initiative that seeks to promote positive life outcomes for Black men and boys. Challenging other philanthropists to make similar long-term investments, Soros believes philanthropy can play a critical role in “revers[ing] the serious damage inflicted over many years of systemic injustice.”
In that spirit, BMAfunders, a project of the Open Society Foundations and the Foundation Center, highlights the role of philanthropy in supporting Black men and boys. BMAfunders strives to facilitate engagement, catalyze collaboration, and promote strategic decision-making in the field of Black male achievement, serving as a resource not only to funders, but also to nonprofits, policymakers, and anyone else interested in fostering Black male achievement.
A go-to source for data and information related to Black male achievement, BMAfunders features a variety of resources, including an interactive mapping tool with funding data, a timeline of philanthropic milestones in the field, a toolkit for assessing project outcomes, a comprehensive collection of research reports, descriptive case studies of work on the ground, and multi-media content.
The portal builds on the groundbreaking 2012 report, Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys, which examines foundation funding flows in support of Black men and boys and highlights innovative philanthropic initiatives.
Black male achievement is not just a “Black issue,” it’s an American issue. Lani Guinier, former Open Society U.S. Programs board member, described Black males as America’s “canaries in the coalmine”—a barometer of how the country as a whole is faring. Thus, philanthropic investments that create opportunities and structural supports for Black males ultimately help elevate the economic and social well-being of all members of society. Through data on the status of Black men and boys, BMAfunders aims to raise awareness about this issue and engage new partners in the emerging field of Black male achievement.
A frequently cited concern in philanthropy is that funders often aren’t aware of what initiatives and programs their peers at other foundations are supporting, which can lead to duplication of effort and ineffective use of limited dollars. Through its interactive funding map, BMAfunders catalyzes collaboration and coordination among grantmakers by providing current grantmaking information on who’s funding what, where. The map helps users easily identify foundations that are working in a similar impact area or in the same geographic region.
Tackling the challenges and conditions faced by Black men and boys is incredibly complex work. As Open Society Foundation’s Shawn Dove put it, “Grantmakers should not enter this field with the expectation that they can parachute in and save the day….We need to look at what’s working, and to spread the word about what success looks like.” With that in mind, BMAfunders is a platform for those in the field to share their knowledge and experiences with others. Case studies of various initiatives and programs focusing on Black men and boys highlight both successes and challenges. Site visitors will also find easy access to research in the field, aggregated and summarized in a single place. And the outcomes toolkit points site users to key indicators and measures that will help them understand and assess the impact of their work.
About the Campaign for Black Male Achievement
BMAfunders is funded by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA). CBMA originated as an initiative of the Open Society Foundations and in January 2015 spun off as a stand-alone nonprofit organization.
CBMA addresses the economic, political, social, and educational exclusion of Black men and boys from the American mainstream. In 2006, the New York Times published a front page story, “Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn,” highlighting the growing disparities faced by Black men, despite the economic boom of the time. The article ignited a conversation within the Open Society Foundations, leading to the creation of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement in June 2008. Initially intended to be a three-year initiative, the board decided to remove the term limit, increase the budget, and scale up the work. As George Soros wrote, “This is a generational problem. It demands a long-term commitment.”
The Campaign’s strategy focuses on attaining educational equity, strengthening family structures, and increasing family supportive wage work opportunities for Black men. The Campaign also works to strengthen the field of Black male achievement through partnerships and investments in philanthropic leadership, strategic communications, leadership development, and organizational sustainability.
About Foundation Center
Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants—a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center’s website each day and are served in its five library/learning centers and at more than 470 Funding Information Network locations nationwide and around the world.
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