Revived movement to improve outcomes for black boys must extend beyond a generation

The Open Society Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement and Root Cause have launched a new website for the Leadership and Sustainability Institute, a national initiative to bolster the efforts of advocates and organizations working to improve the life outcomes of black males in the U.S. The Institute is currently in its developmental stages.

The new website, which can be found at, aims to be a collaborative, open-engagement platform for individuals and organizations interested in advancing the field of black male achievement. Materials from the planning process will be posted to the site. The website also includes a blog written by stakeholders and allies from across multiple sectors. Skillman Foundation Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Program Tonya Allen and Anand Dholakia, senior consultant at Root Cause, have contributed the initial posts. Allen's blog post can be found here and also appears below.

By Tonya Allen

I am the oldest of three girls, the mother of three daughters and aunt to four nieces. There is not one boy child in my immediate family. So many might wonder why a woman who has lived in a female-dominated family might be so concerned and passionate about making sure that boys do well. It is very simple; my daughters and nieces will date and eventually marry. I am open to each of them finding love with any man regardless of his race; yet I want each of them to have an option to love a black man just like their grandmother, mothers and aunts have. However, I know that the likelihood of them meeting and loving a Black man with the same education and social class will be dependent upon what we do today to fix the systemic and structural challenges facing black boys.

Unfortunately, my sentiment above is as true today as it was 25 years ago. Black boys are doing as poorly as they were two generations ago. The call to fix these ailments has not gone unanswered. A host of programs were developed to support black boys and to help them transition successfully into manhood. Despite the good deeds of these programs, the work has not sustained. In 1995, the Urban Institute profiled 51 promising programs directed at supporting and improving the outcomes for black boys. Ten years after the study, 75 percent of the programs either no longer exist or stopped doing black boy-related work. Now nearly 20 years later, the movement is revived. There are organizations and caring adults in every urban center across the country working to reverse the ills affecting black boys. The challenge before these good-willed and smart-minded leaders throughout the country is not only to restart the movement, but to make sure that it lasts beyond one generation and that our efforts fulfill our best intentions for black boys.

The Skillman Foundation is pleased to work with the Open Society Institute’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement as it launches the Leadership and Sustainability Institute. This effort is aimed to strengthen the leaders and organizations serving black boys so that the work sustains and black boys prosper over several generations. The Skillman Foundation joins in this effort, because we understand the explicit tie between how black boys fare and Detroit’s future. In both cases, we plan to take the long view so that we can achieve generational success.

-- Tonya Allen is the Foundation's Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Program.


Retired Teacher Corps
The stress on achievement in school is well-placed. There is a group of
persons who are not organized and utilized , as they could be, to
lend a helping hand.......retired teachers. They have decades of
experience, a love of kids and teaching, and much wisdom. Why not
organize them to tutor the children?

As a retired teacher, I will be the first volunteer!

Sr. Joan Baustian
5/05/2014 at 1:43 pm