Council for Black Male Success
The Council for Black Male Success seeks to improve the opportunity landscape for young Black men in Saint Paul.
The Council for Black Male Success (the Council) is an innovative initiative led by a collective group of community organization leaders in the Metro area in partnership with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.
The initiative, originally known as the African American Boys & Young Men Initiative, was launched in 2016. Twenty-six Twin Cities out-of-school time and economic opportunity program providers were invited to share insights with the Foundation about ways to improve the outcomes of young Black men ages 11-32 in Saint Paul. Even though the initiative was expected to last three years, the Council still continues to meet and work together today.
Members of the Council
The Council initially consisted of leaders from 19 community organizations. It currently consists of 10 active members.
In alignment with our Informs. Forms. Benefits. approach, the Foundation provided the initiative with an initial $3 million grant to be distributed over the course of three years. The Foundation and the Council quickly realized that solving problems such as economics and education weren’t issues that could easily be tackled in three years.
Other partner organizations include Creative Catalysts, Wilder Research and Propel Nonprofits. Like the Foundation, these organizations provided technical support, evaluation, facilitation and programming support for Council activities.
Mary K. Boyd, Damone Presley, Quadree Drakeford
Areas of Development
Mental Health & Wellness
Rites of Passage drum session
Since launching in 2016, the Council has been able to establish various programs in an effort to change the lives of Black youth and young men. These include:
- Rites of Passage
- From Hurt to Healing: An Intergenerational Coloring Activity Book
- Workforce readiness program with Ramsey County
In our initial three years of supporting the Council, we realized a lot of trauma had to be unpacked amongst the consortium before any true work could be done. By taking a step back, we recognized what was necessary to help the Council succeed. Below are the 10 lessons we learned from taking on such a unique project. Read more about these in the evaluation report.
How to invest in a community-centered design and community-driven approach
Time pertinent to building trust and relationships
How to set community leaders up for success
Acknowledge the impacts of historical trauma and find ways to promote healing
Making space for real, honest and transparent conversations
Recognize the consequences of the competitive culture of philanthropy
Recognize when “traditional” will not work
Set the table for success by following the community’s lead
The importance of engaging an external partner to help manage an initiative of this size
Be open to new ways of assessing and measuring impact
View the reports below to see how this collective’s work has changed to fit the needs of the men they serve over the past few years.