This month, 10 Philadelphians: Joel Austin, Mont Brown, Otis Bullock, Nehemiah Davis, Marvin Dutton, Tracey Fisher, Malcolm Kenyatta, Sulaiman Rahman, Wayne Rucker and Eric Worley received $100,000 of the more than $400,000 given directly to 43 black fathers, nonprofit leaders and businessmen in Akron, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to help them build better communities in their cities.
The grants are presented by BMe Community, a growing national network of 12,000 black men and others of all races and genders who are committed to building better communities across the U.S.
According to BMe Community, Detroit’s 10 awardees, called “BMe Leaders”, were nominated by local residents and chosen because they were already consistently helping thousands of their neighbors.
“We’re thrilled about the BMe Leader Award celebration on June 22nd because these men create opportunity and hope in our city,” says Jeff Jones BMe Philadelphia Community Manager.
Alex Peay was one of the first men to receive the BMe Leader Award in 2012. His organization, Rising Sons, worked to visit untapped communities and transform the lives of young men 18-30 years old through civic engagement. He helped individuals in the program to vie for competitive jobs, by giving them the hands-on experience they needed while also working on their character. He has since been given the Humanitarian Award from his alma mater Ursinus College and been featured in BMe’s bestselling book “REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living Leading and Succeeding.”
Alex and each of the newest BMe Leaders has also agreed to stand up for important values in America’s evolving dialogue on race, community and our nation’s future.
Specifically, BMe Community believes that the most prosperous way forward for America is to value all its people, recognize black men as assets, reject stories that denigrate people, and work together for our common interests in caring and prosperous communities. The BMe Leaders embody those values. Their personal stories and leadership inspires others to reach for those values as well. Participants in BMe
Community are encouraged to use the hashtag #ReachWithUs to share, inspire, and empower each other with words of congratulation, useful information, images, and event invites.
These 10 “Community Fathers,” were celebrated on June 22nd at The African American History Museum, 701 Arch St. The celebration and BMe Community were originally brought to Philadelphia in 2012 thanks to a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Open Society Foundations. Since then, BMe has named 143 BMe Leaders altogether in five cities, sponsored over 100 community events and produced countless stories of solutions and the inspiring people behind them.
BMe Community began as a project of the John S. and James L Knight Foundation. Its 143 BMe Leaders in five cities since 2012 provide educational, economic, human rights and other services to over 300,000 of their neighbors every year (over 1-million people directly helped since 2012). Since BMe spun off from Knight Foundation in July 2013, more than 12,000 people have formally registered as BMe “Community Builders” at www.bmecommunity.org.
“The people who experience BMe Community in action become fans of it because we have an optimistic, fact-based, aspirational message about black men and about America’s future,” says Trabian Shorters, Founder and CEO of BMe Community.
BMe Leaders come from all walks of life, ranging in age from 21 to over 80. They are black men who are often unheralded yet lead by example on matters ranging from creating businesses to educating children to protecting human rights. The BMe Leaders work with men and women of all races who also want cities that are prosperous, safe, and provide hope and opportunity to future generations.
“America is at another one of those historic moments where we can choose chaos or community” says Shorters, “These men have always been here. We just admit their existence and invite people of all races and genders to reach with us to build assets, build community and give our children a better story of America’s future.”
The “Reach With Us” Campaign
BMe Community has an ongoing campaign to modernize the narrative about black men, community, and America’s future. In addition to its BMe Leaders, BMe Media and BMe Events, in February 2015 BMe released a book of micro-biographies called “REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding” by co-editors Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters. REACH has become a bestseller and has been praised by men and women ranging from Alisa Swidler to Desmond Tutu.
Insightful personal stories from men like John Legend, Talib Kweli, Isiah Thomas and Benjamin Jealous grace the pages, alongside stories from BMe Leaders such as Dr. Eddie Connor who survived stage four cancer at age 15 and went on to become a great teacher and motivational speaker. REACH includes inspiring true stories from black men who are media owners, foundation executives, explorers, financial wizards and BMe Champions such as footwear guru D’Wayne Edwards, film actor and activist Lamman Rucker, and TV personality and activists, Van Jones. All of whom have made a deep personal commitment to helping others as part of their role as black men.
The hashtag #ReachWithUs on social media, is an opportunity for everyone to promote the causes that matter to them and to do so in solidarity with black men who are deeply committed as well. BMe encourages people of all races and genders to register by texting Brother to 96000 (and follow the prompts), using the hashtag #ReachWithUs, and making a donation here.
Leave a Comment