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BMe: Funding everyday Black men

Did you know that there are more brothers in college than in prison?

Ashley Montgomery | 3/27/2014, 9 a.m.

There are 1.4 million Black men in college and there are about 840,000 Black men in prison, according to Ivory Toldson, an associate professor at Howard University, senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and editor-in-chief of “The Journal of Negro Education.” 

Recently, the nation's first Black President, Barack Obama launched a new effort aimed at empowering boys and young men of color called My Brother's Keeper. For decades, opportunities for Black men and boys has been disproportionately staggering compared to other races. 

One in every three Black males born today can expect to go to prison at some point in their life, compared to

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Trabian Shorters

every 17 white males, according to a recent report by the Sentencing Project regarding racial disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System. 

These facts are not ignored by Trabian Shorters, 47, former Knight Foundation vice president of communities but yet he still aims to celebrate the story of Black men who are doing positive things in their communities. Shorter created BMe — an innovative network that celebrates the ‘everyday’ Black man who is striving to make positive differences in his communities. 

BMe “helps build caring and prosperous communities by engaging Black men as assets to society and inviting people of all races and sex to work together on causes that matter to each of us.” The men involved are fathers, coaches, students and businessmen — images of whom are less than likely depicted in the media. 

The company has been targeting members in Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and now are seeking to begin a community in Miami. 

Last September, the company received $3.6 million in investments from the Knights Foundation; Open Society Foundation; Heinz Endowment and individual donors who believe in the mission of BMe. 

Shorters is directly involved with the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. 

Shorters said that he worked closely with President Obama to change the language in the design about changing the narrative of their approach. 

For instance, with the success story of BMe leader Shaka Senghor who underwent a tremendous transformation while being incarcerated for murder in Detroit. Senghor was released from prison three years ago and has made a transformation through the BMe network.

“BMe wants to make sure that we approach these Black men as assets,” Shorters said. “When a brother is returning home. . . the reaction is what are we going to do about him or with him."

Instead of taking that approach, BMe steps in and seeks the positive that a perhaps ex-felon may have to offer to the community and expands on that. 

“BMe is interested in pulling lives together,” Shorters said. “We elevate the value of Black men and do it among the media, observation and corporations.” 

Miami has become a staple city for ‘Rest In Peace’ t-shirts when a loved one passes away. Senghor had an idea to design and market ‘Live In Peace’ t-shirts that promote peace in inner cities.

Today the network has 3,000 Black men providing services to more than 10,000 neighborhoods on issues that include: youth development, public health, ending violence to help former inmates helping former inmates, defending the community farming, improving financial literacy and fostering entrepreneurship.