The Lasting Campaign for Black Male Achievement

By spinning off as a standalone organization this January, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement is poised to move to the next level.

For a society to be truly open, it must ensure that all of its members have full and equal access to economic, social, and political opportunities. A core element of our work at the Open Society Foundations is to challenge and confront those barriers that undermine such opportunities—particularly for communities that are historically marginalized and vulnerable.  

Over six years ago, the Open Society Foundations expanded its historic support for racial justice in the United States by initiating an effort specifically targeted at the challenges confronting black men and boys: the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA). The reason was simple: the United States cannot realize its aspirations as a society without tackling head-on its legacy that limits the potential of African American males.

Over the intervening years, CBMA has led us forward, and we are excited to announce that the campaign will now spin off to continue its work as an independent organization in a new and enhanced form. 

When CBMA first launched, there was precious little philanthropy dedicated specifically to addressing the special racial and gender barriers preventing boys and men of color from achieving their economic, political, educational, and social potential. In recent years, a number of foundations have become joint leaders through efforts, such as the California Endowment’s Sons and Brothers campaign, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise initiative, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Black Male Engagement work, among others.

Today, in part due to CBMA’s efforts, there is an unprecedented number of organizations dedicated to carrying this banner—including the recently formed Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color, a coalition of more than 40 foundations (including the Open Society Foundations, which continues to play a leadership role on the steering committee). And earlier this year, President Obama announced the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, putting black male achievement on an even more prominent platform for the remainder of this administration and beyond.

The work done by CBMA’s leaders, Shawn Dove and Rashid Shabazz, has helped start to change the narrative—and create a black male achievement movement in this country. This has involved identifying and lifting up innovators and building and expanding a network of leaders and organizations dedicated to this cause. By spinning off as a standalone organization this January—a step first suggested by Shawn several years ago—CBMA is poised to move to the next level.

Open Society has spun off more than 300 programs in its history. As our president Chris Stone has said, “The cause of justice … is strengthened by the combined power” of the parent organization and its new progeny. We certainly believe that will be the case with CBMA. 

The new entity has a new web address. But it will keep the same name, and the same focus: to help foster the growth, sustainability, and impact of organizations working to improve the lives of black boys and men. And it will incorporate the work of the Institute for Black Male Achievement, which was created in late 2012 with a grant of $4 million from Open Society and eight funding partners. 

Tonya Allen, CEO of the Skillman Foundation, will serve as CBMA’s founding board chair, and will be joined on the board by Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone and board member of Open Society’s U.S. Programs; William C. Bell, CEO of the Casey Family Programs; and Wendell Pritchett, interim dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation will serve as CBMA’s fiscal sponsor.

We send Shawn and Rashid on the next leg of their journey with a new grant of $10 million over the next five years. This substantial grant is meant to convey our confidence in their endeavor; we look forward to collaborating further with CBMA as they get underway.

But the grant is also an indication of our ongoing commitment to racial justice, a component of virtually all the U.S. work we do—including our efforts to end mass incarceration, to reform policing and the juvenile justice system, to preserve and protect voting rights, to close the racial wealth gap, and to advocate for alternatives to harsh school disciplinary policies.

This month we invested $2.5 million to support frontline community groups in Ferguson, as well as develop a national database on the police use of force—both to better identify problematic practices and examples of effective, responsive, and accountable policing.

We are excited about CBMA’s future as a vital aspect of our continued work in this area. We are proud of the work they have started and look forward to the opportunities ahead for the newest member of our extended family. 

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This is great news, funding and resources are essential to their success. As a Parent Educator/Consultant, what I believe is that we must educate their parents if permanent change is the real oucome. Thoughts?

Thanks for your comment, Bernita. I agree that funding and resources are essential to CBMA's success as a spin-off, that coupled with vision, strategy, strong strategic partners partners and tenacity will go a long way toward us elevating our impact in the field of black male achievement. And could not agree with you more about parent engagement! Black men and boys is the narrow lens approach to our work, but the wide-angle lens approach is truly a community building focus which is inclusive of girls, women (mothers), etc. All hands on deck. Stay tuned at on our developments and progress!

Thank you for your foresight, vision and work.

Thanks Dr. Moren for your comment. So many hands, heads and hearts have gotten the Campaign for Black Male Achievement to this moment. It will take many more to make the necessary change in this nation on this issue. I am all in and leaning in!

I want to applaud both Shawn Dove and Rashid Shabazz for the exceptional leadership that they have provided to the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. I'm looking forward to cheering them on as they take the campaign to new heights. I would also like to show appreciation to the Open Society Foundations (U.S. Programs) for the ongoing investments they are making in the lives of African American men and boys. Our communities are better and stronger because of the importance you have placed on this work.

Thanks so much for the note, Dwayne! We applaud your leadership elevating black male achievement as well at the Southeast Council of Foundations. While I appreciate your commitment to cheering us on in this next level of CBMA's work, do know that we are dragging you on the field with us so that you too can be bruised and bloodied in our battle for racial and social justice in our nation! See you soon.

As a black woman I have made it my mission to lift-up the importance of black men and how they are an asset to our children, families and community.

Thanks for your comment, Peteice. Your leadership in growing the BMA movement has been so valuable, particularly with Women In Fatherhood, Inc. (WIFI) and the New Orleans Fatherhood Consortium!

I have had the pleasure of being a grant reviewer for Black Male Achievement in the past and was privey to some of the organizations funded. I applaud the work of BMA and look forward to working with you in any way moving forward. God Bless you all this Christmas Season and for the New Year.

Thank you for the blessings, Min. Glenn. Looking forward to what's in store in 2015 and beyond for the black male achievement movement. Stay tuned to for developments.

I want to know who is the representative in the Sacramento area.

Hi Aleem. Thanks for your note. Please email me at [email protected] and I will send you information on the orgs and leaders in Sacramento that are engaged in the work. Thanks.

Congratulations, Shawn and Rashid. Your support, along with The Chicago Community Trust, catalyzed Fathers, Families, Healthy Communities (FFHC) in Chicago and in the process helped to create one of the seminal intermediaries generating transformative policies, programs and practices on behalf of Black children, fathers and families in America. It's our hope that going forward, FFHC and CBMA can continue to work together for the good of our people. Thanks again for all that you do for our national community.

Keep Pushing,


And a resounding thanks to you, Sequane, for your leadership and tenacity on this issue. At the heart of CBMA's work is ensuring that the Local Leaders and Hometown Heroes like you are supported and resourced to keep making change. Chicago is a better city because of your work building FFHC and thanks for making the partnership with Chicago Community Trust a fruitful one. Keep pressing!

Bravo, Shawn and Rashid! We are proud of you and praying with you for more great leadership on behalf of our communities. The calvary isnt coming, but we are blessed to have you two servant leaders doing your assignments well. Congratulations! #WeAreTheOnes

Thanks so much for the encouragement, Melinda. You've contributed mightily to CBMA's field-building mission over the past six years. In fact, the inter-generational leadership sessions you've done for us in the past is needed more so now. Let's connect real soon to discuss? Blessings!

Great move to solidify a permanence on this issue. How can organizations that have been working the frontlines on these issues for years tap into this movement if they are not located in areas served by these foundations & funding entities? All the best and keep up the great work...!

Hi Lazone. Thanks for the note.mfirst step for deeper engagement and connection is to join the Campaign for Black Male Achievement at

I am late to this party but wanted to express my complete support and gratitude for the work that you have done in this arena. I stand ready to continue our work together and look forward to a better future for all of our children, families and communities.

Our young black men deserve a chance. God bless, for creating opportunities that will ensure that our young men understand that they are born of royalty and destined for greatness! It truly takes a village to turn our young black boys into men....See you on the front lines!

Dear Ms. Dove and Mr. Shabazz,
Congratulations on the "spinoff" of CBMA and admiration for your leadership. We in the public health and medical community and elsewhere continue to be deeply concerned that "the United States cannot realize its aspirations as a society without tackling head-on its legacy that limits the potential of African American males," specifically the legacy of childhood lead poisoning. We have written the leadership of My Brother's Keeper with our concern for the lack of even a mention of lead poisoning among the many "indicators" their first report identified as barriers to learning and contributors to behavioral issues. We hope that you and your colleagues in CBMA will, at a minimum, be cognizant of a factor limiting achievement for which we have both the knowledge and the means to correct, given public will.

With the national discourse coalescing around economic inclusion, I wonder how much interest might there be in a collaborative of black male achievement organizations participating in a National Inclusive America Summit in DC, whereby the presumptive presidential candidates, impact investors, foundation leaders, policymakers, equity investors, entrepreneurs, federal agencies, education leaders and other stakeholders will participate in a focused and facilitated Town Hall-like event focused on a shared common national vision of Inclusive Competitiveness (empowering underrepresented populations to compete in the innovation economy). This is one of the target milestones of ScaleUp Partners ( The timing is right, as the national discussion and political priority is leaning toward inclusion, even as America's population is rapidly transforming into a multicultural landscape.

The spinoff of CBMA under the leadership of Shawn Dove and Rashid Shabazz will ensure that the condition and status of Black men in the United States will no longer be a cyclical concern, rather a well informed priority voiced without apology. -- Joe Scantlebury

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