Jeff Jones, winner of a 2014 BMe Community Award (and acting community manager at BMe) in the BMe office at Impact Hub Philly).
The 2015 BMe Community Leader Awards are about to kick off once again. Now in its fifth iteration, the awards give up to 50 black men across the country $10,000 for their community-building efforts and connects them with people who share a similar social mission.
Last year, ten Philadelphians were recognized for their work in a variety of fields. This coming June, ten more will be awarded.
“These men are committed, they’re leaders and they’re out there doing the good work and we’re just excited to have the opportunity to recognize these men and put them on a national platform and become part of the BMe Community,” said Jeff Jones, a recipient of last year’s awards and now acting community manager at BMe.
“At BMe we want to control and change the narrative on how black men and boys are viewed in our city and across our nation,” he said. “That is why we are excited about the BMe Community Leader Award because we can show that there are brothers in the city that are doing things that are positive, showing that black men and boys are valued assets to their community and helping to build healthy and prosperous neighborhoods across our nation.”
But first – what are last year’s award winners up to now?
Winning the BMe Community Leader Award last year enabled Jones to provide additional learning materials for his S.A.Y. Yes! youth development program. Jones was also able to secure a central meeting location for his program, where he runs his workshops and mentoring sessions.
After winning the BMe Community Leader award, he’s had the opportunity to further develop Project Positive, his organization for inspiring youth through dance. Holley is currently in the process of securing a studio space – a headquarters to centralize his transformative youth development workshops.
According to Jones, local radio personality Izzard has been actively developing cross-generational programs that help neighborhoods throughout the city thrive and grow.
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Since winning his award last year, Kromah has had the opportunity to travel across the country helping others who are less fortunate. He’s an activist, protesting in rallies for Mike Brown and Eric Garner. He has been able to expand his Writers Matter program to include more youth. The program gives youth a platform to have their voices heard.
Little has begun his “Peace Live In It” campaign, which helps promote unity in Philadelphia – and now, Georgia and California. A spoken word artist, Little uses his poetry as a means of communicating peace to people of all ethnicities. Little is currently working with a film production company to produce a documentary on his transformed life.
As a teacher, artist and entrepreneur, he’s continuing to dedicate his life to helping his community understand the importance of health and wellness. Since winning the BMe Community Leader Award last year, O’Bryan has focused the majority of his attention on mental health causes and youth homelessness.
Samuel Reed, III
Reed is a teacher consultant with the Philadelphia Writing Project and an active member of the Teacher Action Group (TAG Philly). Reed used the grant funds from last year’s award to help youth develop their writing skills and provide additional resources and materials for his Boys Write Now workshops.
A police officer with a heart for the youth in his community, Sprowal used his award winnings to help financially support several youths so that they could attend Community College of Philadelphia. Sprowal acts as a mentor to these students and holds them accountable for their own success.
Dr. Howard Stevenson
An accomplished researcher, Dr. Stevenson used the BMe Community Leader Award grant to help further his research into how racial literacy can and should be dealt with in modern education. The work done around his projects PLAAY (Preventing Long-term Anger and Aggression in Youth) and ViRUS (Villages Raising Us) has helped both adults and youth overcome and understand how to properly deal with racial issues in adolescents.
Thomas hosts a basketball camp every year during the last week of summer. With the funds he received from last year’s awards, he was able to provide a free week-long summer basketball camp to over 70 kids in Frankford. At the camp, Thomas not only taught basketball skills, but vital life skills needed to succeed in and outside the classroom. (Thomas is also running for city council at-large.)
Image via Kristen Gillette
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