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Open Society Foundations, Root Cause, and PolicyLink Launch Black Male Achievement Leadership & Sustainability Institute

The Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) announced today a $2 million investment to launch the Leadership & Sustainability Institute for Black Male Achievement (LSI), a national membership network that seeks to ensure the growth, sustainability, and impact of leaders and organizations across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors committed to improving the life outcomes and creating systemic change for black men and boys. CBMA will work in partnership with Root Cause and PolicyLink to launch the LSI. 

The LSI will be formally launched on October 3 at the network’s first Innovation & Impact Forum. The forum, hosted by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, will showcase major initiatives and innovations in the black male achievement field, highlight practical research and tools, provide networking opportunities, and identify proven strategies that are working.

To view the live stream visit:

“Black men and boys are challenged by entrenched and systemic problems in need of innovative solutions,” said Shawn Dove, manager of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement at the Open Society Foundations. “Leaders working in the field of black male achievement have always grappled with a lack of funding, capacity, and momentum. With the strong network of leaders created and sustained by the LSI, we can now create the support system necessary to sustain effective programs and policies that will do much to improve the lives of black men and boys across the United States.”

Joining the Open Society Foundations in funding the LSI are The Skillman Foundation, The California Endowment, Knight Foundation, and the The Heinz Endowments, with an investment of over $1 million.

The LSI was created because advocacy and service programs that focus on black men and boys have experienced difficulties sustaining their work. The launch of the LSI is a culmination of a 10-month planning process led by Root Cause that included hundreds of leaders across the country and the creation of an online information hub where the public can follow the LSI’s planning process and provide input.

PolicyLink, a national research and advocacy organization, will focus on strengthening and forming networks of organizations at the local, state, and national levels to coordinate on shared policy and field-building efforts that improve outcomes for black men and boys. PolicyLink will also develop and disseminate communications content that builds momentum and positive narratives for the black male achievement field.

“To improve the life chances of black men and boys we must create opportunities for effective, innovative local and national leaders to share and deepen their knowledge,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink. “We need to know what’s working, use sophisticated communication strategies to shine a bright light on the challenges, and infuse a sense of urgency into the implementation of solutions.”

Root Cause will manage a centralized portfolio of resources for LSI members to access high-quality, capacity-building services that help them sustain their work. In addition, Root Cause will lead a Black Male Achievement Social Innovation Accelerator to support cohorts of effective organizations to spread their work, demonstrate their impact, and become nationally recognized leaders.

“The LSI focus on building the capacity of leaders and organizations, networks, and the field of black male achievement is the most exciting work we have done since Root Cause was founded. Its sole purpose is to enable any leader, in any sector, who wants to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys to have sustainability and success,” said Andrew Wolk, CEO of Root Cause. “Our partnership with PolicyLink and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement will allow us to develop a national membership network that provides the support necessary for leaders across the country to give attention to this issue for decades.”


Active in more than 70 countries, the Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

PolicyLink is a national research and advocacy institute advancing economic and social equity. Founded in 1999, PolicyLink helps create sustainable communities of opportunity that offer access to quality jobs, affordable housing, good schools, transportation, and the benefits of healthy food and physical activity. The organization is based in Oakland, California, with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

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.


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