Black Philanthropic Foundation Helps Black Men and Boys

Boys to Men

Job responsibilities:
As campaign manager, Dove and his philanthropic team of six dole out grants ranging from $50,000 to $1 million to organizations whose initiatives include programs centered on educational equity, strengthening family structure, increasing employment opportunities, and improving the image of the black male. To date, the campaign has invested more than $30 million in organizations improving life outcomes for black men and boys.

“I don’t just sit around and give away money,” explains Dove. “There is a lot of responsibility that goes into philanthropy. The hardest part of my job is saying no, especially to solid, well-deserving organizations and projects that are not a fit.”

Personal responsibility:
Dove says his personal responsibility is to make sure he works with organizations that will make a difference. Historically, he explains, philanthropic groups have invested “millions and millions of dollars into projects, but change can be slow.” In his four years of directing this campaign, Dove has seen marked improvements among his grantees, such as Eagle Academy Foundation, which is a network of schools that turn at-risk, inner-city boys into academic achievers. “It’s great working with bright, dynamic, and passionate leaders in communities who have a real vision for improving life for black boys and men. I realize change doesn’t happen overnight because racial discrimination is a big part of leveling the playing field, but the campaign is keeping this issue front and center.” But there are challenges as well, particularly with programs and organizations that have not lived up to their goals. “Clearly, there have been groups that have not done the work they said they would do.”

Biggest frustration:
Dove sometimes feels exasperated when he is constantly asked why the campaign only focuses on black men and boys, but he is quick to explain that the campaign’s work is a response to America’s unfinished business with one of the country’s most marginalized people. “There’s a need to keep black men and boys out of the prison system and ensure they are working, educated, and are present in the life of their family,” he explains.

“Millions of black men wake up every day and try to be a better man, better husband, and a better father, but many don’t have the opportunity to make it happen. When America looks at the outcome of black men and boys in terms of education, family structure, employment, and image, how could anyone wonder why this campaign exists? Rebuilding the black male is not a black problem, it’s an American problem. George Soros and the Open Society Foundations have placed a big, bold bet on improving life for black males and boys.”

Success prospects:
Dove first started his job with a three-year commitment, but 18 months later, Soros and the U.S. programs board of directors of the Open Society Foundations were impressed with the initial results, and removed the term limit and tripled the annual budget for the campaign to $15 million. The Campaign for Black Male Achievement recently partnered with Echoing Green, a nonprofit organization that invests in social entrepreneurs and their ideas, to create the Black Male Achievement Fellowship. The first class of the BMA Fellowship includes eight organizations that will receive a $70,000 stipend, healthcare insurance stipend, professional development, technical support, and consultations with social entrepreneurs. “The Campaign for Black Male Achievement is not just investing in programs and organizations, we are investing in leadership and people,” explains Dove, who has  two sons. “I will be doing this work for the rest of my life.”