Campaign for Black Male Achievement

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Dear Executives’ Alliance Colleagues:

The events unfolding in Ferguson and Staten Island have been a stark reminder of how far we have to go to fulfill the promise and potential of African-American boys and young men in this country. As fellow leaders of the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color, we share in the goal of hastening the pace of progress. As we search for new ways to bring about change, we wanted to let you know about a new contribution to the field, one that has already made a lasting impact on the lives of black males, and which is now poised to take its mission to a new level.

Three years ago, Shawn Dove began thinking about how to make the Campaign for Black Male Achievement a permanent part of the racial and social justice landscape. He proposed spinning off CBMA as a standalone entity. In January, Shawn’s idea will become a reality.

As you know, Open Society launched CBMA in 2008, at a time when there was too little attention being dedicated specifically to battling the unique set of barriers preventing boys and men of color from achieving their economic, political, educational and social potential. CBMA’s success, and the success of the efforts all of you have made over the years, helped create a thriving field, and drive political action at the highest levels, including President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.

Now CBMA is taking the next step. While it began as a discrete time-limited campaign, we expect that as CBMA becomes a permanent entity, it will expand the field, create new leadership opportunities, and develop new sources of support—sources that might not necessarily emerge had they stayed in the nest. Open Society has seen these benefits before, in the more than 300 programs it has supported through spinoffs over the years. As OSF President Chris Stone, who helped create the leading toolkit for how to achieve successful spinoffs, has observed, “the cause of justice…is strengthened by the combined power” of the parent organization and its new progeny.

CBMA launches on its new journey with a stellar founding board, chaired by Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation. Tonya and the Skillman Foundation were early believers, and have played a crucial role in CBMA’s development, drawing on her lengthy experience working to create opportunity for the children of Detroit. Working together, Tonya, Open Society and several other members of the Alliance helped create the forerunner to what became the Institute for Black Male Achievement, the field-building aspect of the operation that will be incorporated into the new standalone entity. Tonya is joined on the board by Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone; William Bell, CEO of the Casey Family Programs; and Wendell Pritchett, interim dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

While its governance is changing, CBMA’s core mission remains the same. In the new year, CBMA will redouble its efforts to build and develop a national membership network of leaders committed to improving opportunities for black men and boys, using assessment tools, capacity-building grants and convenings, among other tools, and tracking progress through its newly implemented Black Male Achievement Life Outcomes Dashboard. It will work to strengthen the ties between civil-rights era leaders and a new generation of activists emerging in places like Ferguson and New York City. And through the efforts of Rashid Shabazz, CBMA’s vice president for strategic communications, the team will continue its work to shift the public narrative about black men and boys.

As Shawn says, “CBMA will continue to play a critical role in strengthening the capacity of organizations on the ground; keeping the lives of black boys and men and the barriers they face to realize their full potential front and center through our field promotions and strategic communications; and connecting leaders who are advancing black male achievement—nationally as well as on the local level.”

We believe CMBA is well-positioned to help lead the next stage of the effort, for years to come. Open Society has made a grant of $10 million to help see CBMA through its next five years. Skillman has just announced a $750,000 grant to CBMA to bolster efforts to support black men and boys in Detroit through My Brother’s Keeper, part of a $2 million investment in the president’s initiative. The California Endowment, whose CEO, Bob Ross, co-chairs the Executives’ Alliance with Tonya, has pledged $1 million to the CBMA spinoff as well. And another member of the Executives’ Alliance, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, will serve as CBMA’s fiscal sponsor. We are aware that they will be searching for additional sources of funding in the months ahead, and we appreciate your consideration if they come knocking on your door.

Please join us in congratulating Shawn and Rashid on their remarkable achievements, and in supporting them as they begin this exciting new phase of the campaign.

Ken and Tonya