Fort Wayne, Ind. – The City of Fort Wayne is one of 11 cities recently chosen by the National League of Cities (NLC) to receive one year of technical assistance, supporting an effort to reduce disparities between black males and their peers. The City Leadership to Promote Black Male Achievement initiative is coordinated by the NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, with support from the Open Society Foundations and PolicyLink.
NLC launched the new technical assistance project in May with a goal of helping cities reduce the wide disparities in education, work, and family outcomes between African-American males and their peers. A team consisting of city representatives and members of the Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males spent four months compiling data and creating an action plan for addressing issues that impact the social status of black males. During this time, NLC provided support in the form of webinars, conference calls and information sharing. At the end of September, NLC notified City leaders from Fort Wayne and 10 other cities that they will continue receiving technical assistance through August 2014.
“The Black Male Achievement initiative is an important effort to help address challenges that individuals and communities face each day,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “We must come together to overcome obstacles such as unemployment, educational disparities, high incarceration rates, and health concerns. By enhancing the opportunities for achievement and success for Black males, we’ll see positive personal development, stronger families, vibrant neighborhoods and an excellent quality of life.”
“It’s a blessing to the City to receive this kind of recognition,” said Councilman Glynn Hines, who is also a member of the Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males. “There is a need to engage more African American males and encourage them to achieve at all levels of our society — whether it is in our schools, on the job, in our churches and especially in the family.”
NLC’s initiative seeks to address a multitude of challenges that place young black men and boys in cities across the country at a significant educational, economic and social disadvantage compared with other children, youth and young adults.
The 11 project cities have all pledged to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys by forming strong local partnerships; using data more effectively; developing comprehensive strategies focused on education, employment, family strengthening, and violence prevention; and engaging young black men and boys in civic life and local government.
In addition to Fort Wayne, the selected cities include: Charlottesville, Va.; Chicago; Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee; Oakland, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; and Portland, Ore.
Among the benefits of participating in this initiative, NLC officials have said, is the opportunity to learn from other cities and national experts who will share successful strategies for promoting educational equity, strengthening families, helping young black men overcome barriers to employment, and reducing youth violence.
The Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males, which was reestablished in June 2013, has hosted a Back to School Fatherhood event and a health awareness program that provided health screenings in local barbershops.