BOSTON, MA – To bolster the efforts of advocates and organizations working to improve the life outcomes of black males in the U.S., Root Cause and the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement are launching a Leadership and Sustainability Institute. The project is meant to strengthen the capacity of the campaign’s grantees and other nonprofit organizations working within the field of black male achievement.
“It’s going to take decades of effort to make real headway on the many difficult issues that black men and boys in this country face,” said Shawn Dove, the Campaign Director of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. “We’re excited to partner with Root Cause on this important legacy: an institute that provides individuals and organizations working on black males achievement with the tools and support they need to ensure success.”
Black men and boys face major racial disparities, unequal opportunities and achievement gaps at nearly every stage in life including early childhood, primary and secondary school, college and employment. For example, by 2004, 50 percent of black men in their 20s who lacked a college education were jobless, as were 72 percent of high school dropouts; 42 percent of all black boys had failed an entire grade at least once and only 18 percent of black men ages 20–21 were enrolled in college; the Bureau of Justice Statistics projected that 28 percent of black males in America will serve some time in state or federal prison.
While over the years numerous leaders, advocates and organizations have made major strides in improving the life outcomes and achievements of black men and boys, sustaining a strong and consistent multi-decade focus on the issue has been a great struggle. A 1995 Urban Institute study found that of the 51 programs focused on black men and boys surveyed, after 10 years a quarter no longer existed and less than a quarter still maintained programming focusing on black males.
Organizations working in the black male achievement field have faced, and continue to face, more obstacles compared to the overall nonprofit sector including:
- The black male achievement field has been plagued by inconsistent philanthropic support.
- Organizations often work in isolation from one another, may be working in segregated neighborhoods, and have lower access to networks and resources to help grow their impact. Efforts to coordinate the field are often short term or unstructured.
- Available growth and sustainability resources often lack sufficient cultural context or focus on organizations working in this field, and those few service providers that are dedicated to the field are often small, geographically scattered, have inconsistent cash flow, slow growth of impact and challenges to sustainability.
The Campaign for Black Male Achievement is a multi-issue, cross-fund strategy to address black men and boys’ exclusion from economic, social, educational, and political life in the United States. The campaign responds to a growing body of research that reveals the intensification of black males’ negative life outcomes. It builds on U.S. Programs’ mission to support individuals and organizations that nurture the development of a more democratic, just society, as well as the Open Society Foundations’ expertise and past work to reduce incarceration, promote racial justice, and support youth engagement and leadership development.
About Root Cause
Founded in 2004, Root Cause began as a small nonprofit consulting practice for innovative nonprofits. Since then, Root Cause has grown to become a nationally recognized organization with 30 team members and an annual budget of $3 million. Root Cause has developed growth and sustainability plans for more than 130 nonprofit organizations that have subsequently raised more than $50 million.
Top photo: Open Society Foundation's Campaign for Black Male Achievement hosts a retreat in September 2011 at the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky
Source: Press release/Root Cause
Photo credit: Salahadeen Betts via Black Star Project