By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
For ten years, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) has strived to make a difference in the lives of young black boys and men. On Jan. 24, they released their second report since going independent several years prior, titled Promise of Place.
The report analyzes, discusses and celebrates the milestones of cities who participated in the program during 2017. It highlights 50 cities based on demographic mix, cityled commitment to black men and boys, CBMA membership, the presence of national initiatives supporting black men and boys and targeted funding supporting black men and boys.
Shawn Dove, the CEO of CBMA, said, “This is a national movement for young black men and boys.”
Part of the reason for creating and releasing the report according to Sheba Rogers, a program manager for Promise of Place, is to not only celebrate but to “redefine black male achievement.”
Originally, CBMA was a campaign under Open Society Foundations (OSF) intended to last for three years, according to the report. However, due to its impact, OSF maintained CBMA until 2015 when CBMA became independent.
According to Dove, CBMA’s core mission is to give young boys the tools and resources so they can be healthy, thriving and obtain the ability to achieve anything.
Students like Nolan Bryant who attends Frederick Douglass Academy For Young Men has felt the impacts of CBMA’s mission first hand. As a young man growing up in Detroit, he’s aware of the lack of constructive black leaders in his community.
Detroit is one of five cities including Milwaukee, Baltimore, Louisville and Oakland that CBMA targets specifically to “proof points,” according to Dove.
Bryant viewed CBMA as a positive influence in his life. He said learning about the continual investment of CBMA made him happy, and he wants to see more leaders and mayors implementing these programs.
Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United, is one of the driving forces who connects mayors and city leaders to CBMA. Smith believes that CBMA benefits the individual, the family, the neighborhood and the city.
It’s through Cities United efforts and CBMA’s own influence, that cities like Denver are taking a more active stand when it comes to black male’s achievement.
Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver is grateful that CBMA is spreading its roots in Denver.
“Under my administration,” he said, “this will remain a priority for this city.”
According to Mayor Hancock, CBMA and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which began under President Barack Obama, are changing the city for the better and allowing them to focus on certain aspects like black male’s education and social and emotional growth. He also believes that having a mayor of color has benefited the city when it comes to leading the effort.
Juan Baez is a director for Black and Latino Male Achievement for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). He explained that CBMA and My Brother’s Keeper are helping MPS and Milwaukee identify target programs and investments that engage men of color and close the achievement gap.
In addition to incorporating CBMA into their cities, both Mayor Hancock and Baez agreed that the presence of an adult in a young person’s life is vital.
As a young man of color growing up in Milwaukee, Baez knows what these boys are experiencing. He explained that it’s important to have someone in their corner who represents a positive narrative.
“We believe CBMA is at the right place and time in our nation’s history,” Dove said.
The report can be accessed at blackmaleachievement.org/promiseofplace.