Foundation’s approach to Black Male Engagement is premised upon two related insights:
Black men and boys are assets to our communities and must be considered as such.
We don’t need to “fix” people, we need to inform them and engage them.
Vision: We envision black men and boys leading in solutions, participating in decision-making and fully engaged in all issues and opportunities affecting their communities.
Strategy: To get there, Knight opens up opportunities for everyone to get involved. We partner with and support ideas from leading national networks, local organizations and yes, even regular every day people.
National Networks: Knight seeks thought partners on this work who are insightful and innovative such as Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Context Partners, American Values Institute, Citizen Engagement Lab, Spitfire Strategies, Color of Change and BET.
Local Organizations: We fund programs in Knight Communities showing promise for engaging black boys and men. Early grants to the Student African American Brotherhood ($300K), the University of Akron Foundation ($425K) and the Detroit Pre-College Engineering Program ($921K) supported programs for doubling black male graduation rates.
Today we are interested in innovative and effective programs for engaging black males in what matters to them such as the “What It Takes” e-mentoring program ($492K), which allows professional black men to mentor groups of aspiring students primarily online.
And Yes Regular People: There are unsung heroes in every community who must be recognized, connected and celebrated in order to inspire and engage multiple others like them.
In Philadelphia, Baltimore and Detroit, we are piloting a Black Male Engagement campaign called BMe (pronounced “Be Me”). It will directly challenge negative stereotypes of black males by engaging thousands of others in the real life stories and positive community actions led by them. Fifty men recently received 2013 Leadership Awards to recognize their contributions, which come with funding support for their project.