Campaign spotlights the positive contributions made by black men in their communities
ABOVE PHOTO: BMe members with Jackson Elementary School students.
BMeCommunity.org brings together regular guys to share stories, get support and advance their work
Black men from all walks of life gathered Tuesday, November 13, in Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia as part of BMe—a growing community that encourages black men to "lift up their voices" and tell others about the positive contributions they make in their communities. Teams of videographers are fanning out across city neighborhoods over the next eight weeks, and more than 1,700 men are expected to record videos about special projects and everyday actions they take to strengthen their neighborhoods and help others.
"BMe is based on a simple truth, that there are thousands of black men who are assets to their communities—and we must acknowledge and build upon our assets. No buts, no maybes, no if ands, " said Trabian Shorters, vice president of communities for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which founded BMe along with the Open Society Foundations. "They start businesses, mentor people, run projects and help others just because they can and because they care."
PHOTO: Philly student gets thumbs up for best water filter.
Story-sharing is just one aspect of BMe—pronounced "be me"—a growing network of black men committed to making their communities stronger. Through BMe, black men can also connect with each other, exchange ideas and receive resources to advance the positive work they do in their communities. In addition to Knight and Open Society, the initiative is backed by the Heinz Foundation.
In Philadelphia, 20 BMe participants were at the Jackson Elementary School Tuesday morning helping students make water filters as part of BMe's first "Random Act of Service and Brotherhood"; the project will introduce 3rd th and 4th graders to science and math careers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The Jackson School service project was part of the Kick-off for a call for African American men to tell the stories about their work in the community and the contributions they make to help others.
Bme also hosted a dinner on Tuesday evening to spotlight those stories and to gather partners for the second year of the project. Last year, BMe collected more than 1000 videos from men in Philadelphia.
After a successful pilot in Detroit and Philadelphia, the program is expanding this year to Baltimore. Events are being held on Tuesday, November 13, in those three cities to issue a "call for stories" that will be featured on the BMe website. Early next year, participants will be able to apply for grants to support their community work.
In Philadelphia, local organizer Alex Peay is heading up an outreach team to interview men and collect their stories for posting on the BMe website. For more information, visit BMeCommunity.org. The BMe project is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Open Society Foundation.
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