According to the 2017 Quantifying Hope report, nearly every major indicator of economic, social, and physical well-being shows that boys and men of color in the U.S. do not have access to the structural supports and opportunities needed to thrive. This failure results in negative consequences not only for this population but also for society at large. Nonprofits addressing achievement among boys and men of color often tackle this complex social issue with tight finances, small teams, and limited opportunities for staff to learn, grow, and regroup from the many demands that are common to the field. Candid’s Boys and Men of Color Executive Director Collaborative Program (BMOC) aims to address these challenges by helping nonprofit leaders leverage their strengths and align existing resources to sustain their programming while increasing collective impact for boys and men of color.
Candid is currently in the fourth cohort of the BMOC Leadership Circle. Started in 2017, the BMOC program is an eight-session cohort that is part of a larger movement to address Black male achievement. Approximately 150 organizations have applied to participate in the BMOC program since its inauguration four years ago. To date, the program has served nearly 70 participants and unique organizations throughout metro Atlanta and is poised to expand in the future. Due to COVID-19, the program, historically presented in person, was deferred in 2020. BMOC returned in February 2021 adapted for a virtual format. Twenty-five participants from 18 organizations are enrolled in this year’s cohort. Because of its virtual nature, we were able to welcome organizations throughout the South, not just the Atlanta region.
The program kicked off with Shawn Dove, former CEO, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, overviewing the field of Black male achievement. He provided participants with a historical and national lens of programming designed to help boys and men of color thrive. In addition to the contextual framework, Candid provided insight into who funds Black male achievement.
The cohort will explore leadership styles, resources to support BMOC programming in their communities, and strategies to increase network connectedness. They will also receive guidance and training to achieve a GuideStar Gold or Platinum Seal of Transparency.
In one of the most recent sessions, participants heard grantmakers speak about navigating the pandemic. It was also an opportunity to meet in advance the grantmakers who will share feedback on each participant’s funding pitch, which will take place in the final session. Panelists included Katrina DeBerry, program officer, thriving communities, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta; Scott D. Brown, senior director community affairs, Georgia-Pacific; Atiba Mbiwan, president of the Zeist Foundation; and Neal Myrick, global head of the Tableau Foundation. Although the pandemic has disrupted business as usual, nonprofits still need to make their case for support compelling to funders, without overemphasizing hardships and challenges that communities face, said Mr. Mbiwan. Organizations need to tread a fine balance. The funders highlighted the importance of documenting impact and staying true to mission to avoid mission creep, which is common during times of crises.
The Candid team leading the BMOC program includes Ivonne Simms, programs manager, and Savannah Cathers, program assistant. Their dedication and contributions from several local nonprofit consultants are equipping organizations within the program with tools and resources needed to thrive despite the pandemic. Between COVID-19 and the social upheaval in our nation caused by the high-profile murders by police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Daunte Wright, programs that empower and focus specifically on strengthening organizations serving Black boys and men of color remain relevant, timely, and necessary.