, a nationwide initiative to highlight the accomplishments of African-American men and to encourage and support cooperation among them, debuted in Baltimore this year.
The local initiative kicks off with a cash-prize contest for black men to relate stories of positive collaborative efforts. The deadline is Feb. 28 to enter and contest applications are on BMe’s website.
BMe, which stands for Black Male Identity, began last year in Detroit and Philadelphia. Like Baltimore, both cities have large African-American populations and strong black communities.
Baltimore was the next logical step, “an ideal city to demonstrate” BMe, says Rodney Foxworth, community engagement manager with Black Maryland Engagement, who is heading the local BMe initiative.
BMe's local community partners are Open Society Institute-Baltimore and the Center for Urban Families. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
is funding the contest. This year, each of the three cities will receive $200,000 grant money. Individual amounts will vary, with a maximum award of $20,000 to any single entry.
Last year’s contest focused on individual efforts. This year, collaboration was chosen as the theme for the one-time, one-year awards.
“We are collecting stories from black males
. The first step is to talk about things they are doing in their communities,” Foxworth says. The criteria for the award is “to demonstrate collaboration and a positive outcome,” he says, whether it’s mentoring youth, teaching literacy skills or organizing black businesses.
Foxworth, a Baltimore native, is working out of an office in the Center for Urban Families, a nonprofit located at 2201 North Monroe St. near Coppin State University. He says BMe will stay in Baltimore after the contest. “It’s not meant to be a one-time thing,” he say. After the contest ends, Foxworth will be planning activities and community events.
Although BMe has only been in Baltimore about a month, the response has been encouraging, says Foxworth. “BMe is an effort to highlight the positive contributions black men make every day. It’s an acknowledgement of black men’s assets to the community.”
Foxworth says BMe may launch in other cities, possibly Pittsburgh next, although he doesn’t have a timeframe.
Source: Rodney Foxworth, BMe
Writer: Barbara Pash