At Metro United Way, we bring together people and resources to tackle our community’s most significant challenges. As part of Metro United Way’s Black Male Achievement (BMA) Initiative – which seeks to improve life outcomes of black men and boys in our community – we’ve partnered with The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) and the Louisville Urban League in an effort to advance conversations about racial equity in Louisville, with specific attention placed on creating and strengthening opportunities for black men and boys.
We are listening and empathizing intentionally with black men and boys to hear how they explain and define issues and roadblocks to success. Sam Johnson, former Community Engagement Manager at Metro United Way, joined seven African-American young men representing several of our community partners with quality out-of-school (OST) programs, at one of our BMA Books & Barbershop partners, Big City Styles Barbershop, to be part of this important dialogue. This conversation allowed our youth to gain confidence, voice their opinions, hear from varied perspectives and find common ground to create real solutions.
“I believe the barbershop is the cornerstone of our community; it’s one of the few places brothers have the opportunity to speak candidly with truth and conviction,” said Daryle Unseld, Director of Community Engagement at Metro United Way. “Too often when people develop programs, initiatives and change strategies, they don’t hear the voices or involve the very people they are seeking to serve,” he explained.
Metro United Way recognizes that these forums give our future leaders the opportunity to be heard on important local issues that affect both youth and adults in our community. That’s why we’ll continue to host focus groups to gain input and feedback to help guide our BMA efforts and bring outside voices in.
We know that no one person or organization can fight these issues alone. Together, we can win the fight so that everyone can achieve their full potential.