The Washington Post recently reported that there has been virtually no progress for African Americans in homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in over fifty years. Citing a report released by the Economic Policy Institute, the Post surmised that despite significant strides in educational attainment by African Americans over the past five decades, that progress has not translated to upward economic mobility.
If this is true,
What can we do to spark or accelerate economic mobility for black men?
This is the exact question posed by Shawn H. Wilson before a room of black men at the inaugural Men of Courage pop-up event in Detroit last month.
With that call to action and one thousand dollars in seed money at stake, a lightening round of friendly competition ensued as men split into groups, brainstormed the issues, and presented tangible solutions to drive economic mobility for black men in the city of Detroit. Check out their pitches:
Sustainable Men proposed leveraging two established companies, The Greening of Detroit and Camouflage Security to address blight and safety issues in Detroit. In addition, to cleaning up the aesthetics of the community, the group put forth a plan to implement job prep, educational programs, equity education, and health and wellness, complete with wrap around services for youth.
Green Money put forth a proposal to build self-sustainable communities by using a marketplace structure featuring businesses developed by the residents within a given community. After reaching a breakeven point, the surplus is sold and reinvested into the community. Members of the community can share skills using seminars for a nominal fee, thereby developing all the residents’ skillset to create a dynamic workforce.
Operation Jumpstart aimed to accelerate entrepreneurship by giving unlikely entrepreneurial candidates an opportunity to share their stories and pitch their ideas while also providing the education, training, and resources (transportation, time, food, and finances, etc.) necessary to turn their pitches into viable business plans. Program graduates will then pay it forward by investing a certain percentage of their business profits back into the program.
Unleashed Potential sought to develop a cohort of young men who are serious about being leaders in their community. This select group of young men would then enter a leadership development incubator to help them define and refine their purpose and passion by teaching them the fundamentals of spiritual, mental, and physical development. In addition, the group would provide training around self-efficacy, how to make capital connections, and economic empowerment.
And the winner was…
Congratulations to Unleashed Potential, our first MOC pop-up pitch competition winners! And shoutout to all the men who participated. When black men unite, everyone wins!
Join the movement. Download the Men Of Courage Toolkit to host a forum in your city!