In 2011, the BOEN began meeting and developing an agenda and expanding its ranks. The agenda is focused on a commitment to shaping programs and interventions that will positively impact the lives of black boys and men. Core values that embrace this work include:
- Ownership of the crisis facing black boys and men;
- Responsiveness and a responsibility to act on what we know for black boys and men to survive and thrive;
- Transparency in all of our efforts on behalf of black boys and men;
- Respect for the opinions that others may have that may not necessarily align with our views; and
- A commitment to social justice, equity and inclusion on behalf of black boys and men.
The group is comprised of three generations of African American men: “Elders” group who are 60 years and older, retired, semi-retired, who are willing and able to share resources and advice; the Brothamanhood group aged 35-60 years old, generally established in meaningful work and family life, often part of the “sandwich generation” who is responsible for both their own children and their aging parents; and, the “Warriors” group aged 20-35 years old, launching into higher education, early career stages and just beginning to build their own families.
Past and Present Activities of the BOEN
2011 – Originating meetings and Retreat – In the Fall of 2011, the first formal meeting of the BOEN was convened at the Marconi Conference Center in Marin County California, taking place over 2 days. Long-time community and civic leaders Arnold Perkins, Robert Wilkins, and others met to discuss the idea of an intergenerational network of black men, starting with an elders group. The fundamental idea was to create a network of support for men of a range of ages. Following the retreat, the BOEN held regular meetings with the goal of organizing in accordance with age groups, starting with the “Brothamanhood Group” ages 35-55. A third cohort, the Warriors group, began meeting shortly thereafter. Monthly meeting agendas were based on planning workshops to create a network of support and projects to enhance the lives of boys and young men. For example, the BOEN worked with the Office of Neighborhood Safety for the City of Richmond, California to conduct workshops on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month on the following topics:
- Healthy relationships;
- Personal finances;
- Stress relief and other topics of interest.
2012 – Continuing: In 2012, the BOEN enlisted the Bay Area Black United Fund (“BABUF”), a IRC Section 501(c)(3) public charity, the leading Bay Area African American non-profit corporation dedicated to improving wellness through philanthropy and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, to serve as the BOEN’s fiscal sponsor. With BABUF as its fiscal sponsor, the BOEN obtained its first grant from The California Endowment, the largest private health foundation in California dedicated to improving the health of underserved and vulnerable communities, in the amount of $200,000.00. That grant was used to pay for part-time program management services, the development of an early manhood development curriculum which was the prototype of the current curriculum “The Art of Being a Black Man,” the annual retreat, and other program-related expenses. BABUF has continued to serve as the BOEN’s fiscal sponsor.
2012 – Continuing: In early 2012, the BOEN formed a Steering Committee, the predecessor of the current Leadership Council which in turn, now constitutes the BOEN’s Board of Directors.
2012 – Continuing: In 2012, the BOEN began working with the Oakland (i.e. City of Oakland, California) Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement, assisting in the development of an African American Manhood Development Curriculum –a training tool for teachers, mentors, and coaches.
2012 – 2015: Since 2012, the BOEN has worked with the City of Richmond, California, Office of Neighborhood Safety, with respect to its violence prevention efforts to engage formerly incarcerated persons convicted of crimes involving firearms to aid in the effort to end gun violence. Members of the BOEN have served as role models, mentors, and coaches, as well as facilitating an ongoing dialogue about the skills and capacities required, as an alternative to violence.
2012 – Continuing: In 2012, the BOEN established a donor circle with the goal of accumulating the funds necessary to promote proactive solutions and alternatives to violence. This donor-advised fund is housed at the East Bay Community Foundation, a community foundation located in Oakland, California in operation since 1928, and holding almost 500 funds and endowments to benefit the local community.
2012 – Continuing: The BOEN hosts annual retreats, monthly meetings, and other activities which enhance the social cohesion among the BOEN’s participants and members.
2014 – In 2014, the BOEN helped design, organize and attend a statewide dialogue process among Native American, Asian Pacific Islander, and African American elders entitled “Gathering of Elders & Wisdom Keepers,” for the purpose of promoting engagement of the wisdom and knowledge which resides in their respective communities to make a positive impact across California and the nation. This gathering inspired the current planning effort to create a Healing Generations Institute in partnership with The California Endowment.
2014 – Continuing: Commencing in 2014, the BOEN began working with the David E. Glover Education and Technology Center, a program of the Oakland Citizens Committee for Urban Renewal (OCCUR), to bridge the technology divide between advantaged and disadvantaged communities, the Hidden Genius Project, which connects underserved, young black males with the skills, mentors, and experiences that they need to become high-performing entrepreneurs and technologist, and Ile Omode School, a private school in East Oakland serving preschool, elementary, and middle school students, to increase the opportunities for black youth to learn and engage in computer sciences and other information technology education to enhance their employability. We are engaged in creating a training program for black youth who are interested in the information technology field.