An index recently compiled by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) has listed the top 50 cities across the country that best focus on initiatives meant to improve the lives of black men and boys.
Funded by a number of nonprofits including The California Endowment, the Skillman Foundation and the Knight Foundation, the national network represents 2,500 organizations and programs throughout the United States.
The results compiled in "The Promise of Place: Cities Advancing Black Male Achievement" show Washington DC, Oakland, and Detroit at the top with scores of 95 or higher. These cities were found to show the most "engagement and committed action" to address the social issues and opportunities available for their black male populations.
Total scores were calculated using a variety of factors including the demographics of black males in comparison to the total population, the number of national programs available to benefit black males, the amount of targeted funding from nonprofits, and the number of local organizations who are members of the CBMA.
A score higher than 71 showed a "high level" across those measures. However, the average score seen across the 50 cities observed for the index was just 48.5.
The index gave credit to the Oakland Unified School District's African American Male Achievement Office launched in 2010 in an effort to increase the graduation rate of black males in the city. According to Chris Chatmon, the director of the School District's achievement program, the idea was to push restorative justice for the students rather than doling out punishments and suspensions. Classes were also created that focused on historical black leaders and bringing inspiration to students, reports Mike Blasky for The San Jose Mercury News.
D.C. received its high score in part because of its investment made in an effort to close the achievement gap for men of color, totaling in the millions of dollars. High marks were also given in recognition of the city joining President Barack Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" challenge and the Cities United group. The city also received praise for enacting the "ban the box" law that restricts employers from asking applicants about their criminal history, writes Andrew Giambrone for The Washington City Paper.
The report also recommended ways in which cities can increase their scores, including encouraging philanthropists to donate locally and to join national initiatives.
Shawn Dove, CEO of CBMA, said that the purpose of the index was not to put cities at odds with each other, but to serve as inspiration and to offer collaborative tools for cities to share strategies and ideas. He added that investing in local leaders and organizations was an important piece of the puzzle.
"We would be tone-deaf if we did not acknowledge what's happening across this country, as the Black Lives Matter movement reveals," explains Shawn Dove, CBMA's CEO. "We have seen pockets of promise [and] great work that is happening, which we feel is really important to lift up. But there's also the reality that if we don't invest in leaders and organizations, the negative life-outcomes we've seen will continue to grow."