Achieving Generational Success for Black Boys

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 been 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 to not only 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 Foundations 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 Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Program at The Skillman Foundation, a foundation committed to providing resources to improve the lives of children in Metropolitan Detroit. Tonya is the architect of the Foundation’s 10-year $100-million Good Neighborhoods program, oversees all three of the Foundation’s main programs (Good Neighborhoods, Good Schools, and Good Opportunities), as well as communications, technology, and talent development. The LSI website aims to be a collaborative, open-engagement platform for individuals and organizations interested in advancing their work in Black Male Achievement as well as the overall field. Please join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and feedback using the "leave a reply" link below.