Graduation of Young Black Leaders Inaugural Cohort Celebrated
Mayor Michelle Wu last week celebrated the first graduation for the Young Black Leaders Boston inaugural cohort. This event at the City Hall Plaza Pavilion celebrated the 20 high school student graduates who have spent the past six weeks building community with a strong focus on developing participants’ civic organizing and movement building capacity in communities that have been historically disenfranchised.
Young Black Leaders Boston is a new program recently launched and led by the Office of Black Male Advancement (BMA). The program is a core part of Black Male Advancement’s work to improve outcomes and reduce systemic barriers to advancement for Black men and boys living in Boston.
"Our Young Black Leaders Boston program builds on our city's foundation for wrapping around our young people and connecting them with opportunity and support," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "These YBL graduates show an inspiring commitment to their communities and demonstrate what is possible when we create spaces for our young Black leaders to build with one another. I'm thrilled to uplift their success and growth as the first high school graduating cohort of the Young Black Leaders Boston program and look forward to their leadership and impact across our city’s communities."
"I look forward to witnessing the continued growth of the Young Black Leaders Boston graduates," said Frank Farrow, Executive Director of Black Male Advancement. “It is important that we foster spaces that will help to improve outcomes and support our young people, ensuring that they are equipped to access resources, build with their school community and lead in their neighborhoods. The Mayor’s Office of Black Male Advancement remains committed to empowering Black men and boys, and helping them to thrive and share in our City’s prosperity.”
Through the My Brother’s Keeper Boston partnership with Boston Public Schools (BPS), Black Male Advancement focused on engaging and supporting young Black male students in a variety of schools across the district. The cohort participants are from various Boston Public Schools including Boston Arts Academy, Henderson Inclusion Upper School and TechBoston Academy.
“My Brother’s Keeper Boston is committed to creating opportunities for the advancement of young Black men and boys in the City of Boston,” said Jeysaun Gant, My Brother’s Keeper Boston Program Manager. “Our partnership with BPS was intentional to ensure that we recruited local students in communities where youth voices often go unheard. The Young Black Leaders program was created to empower and embolden these young trailblazers to be able to advocate for themselves and peers in their community and school setting and that is an invaluable skill for their development.”
From March 21 through April 27, the inaugural cohort learned a range of skills and practical experience through weekly hour-long sessions aimed at positioning them to robustly organize their communities for social change. Participants also met with key City of Boston officials from various departments and members of the Black Men and Boys Commission to learn how to effectively access crucial city services, navigate local government, foster civic engagement within their communities and sustain advocacy related to issues impacting Black men and boys across the city’s neighborhoods. The participants in this cohort are from various neighborhoods in Boston including Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and the South End.
“The Young Black Leaders program provided me with support for improving my leadership skills. I am thankful to the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Advancement for introducing me to this program,” said JaVaughan Francis, Young Black Leaders cohort graduate. “I don’t often see or hear about young black leaders or black leaders in general unless it’s President Barack Obama or someone famous. It was an eye opening and insightful experience that showed me that we can be more than athletes, or rappers to be young Black leaders in our community.”
The cohort’s weekly sessions were developed and facilitated by The Davis System LLC, which provides grassroots organizing strategy to individuals, organizations and communities. Topics covered include but were not limited to: civic engagement, storytelling, volunteer recruitment, gathering community support for issues and causes, debate, group facilitation, and media engagement.
The Mayor’s Office of Black Male Advancement works to empower Black men & boys and to ensure they have equitable access to opportunities in the City. BMA also focuses on policies, programs, resources, and local and national partnerships. Additionally, the office directs and supports the efforts of the Black Men and Boys Commission and My Brother’s Keeper Boston.