FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne is one of 11 cities chosen by the National League of Cities for its program to promote black male achievement.
The City Leadership to Promote Black Male Achievement initiative is coordinated by the leagues Institute for Youth, Education and Families, which will give Fort Wayne one year of technical assistance, supporting an effort to reduce disparities between black males and their peers.
The National League of Cities launched the technical assistance project in May with a goal of helping cities reduce the wide gaps in education, work and family outcomes between African-American males and their peers.
The Black Male Achievement initiative is an important effort to help address challenges that individuals and communities face each day, Mayor Tom Henry said.
We must come together to overcome obstacles such as unemployment, educational disparities, high incarceration rates and health concerns, he said. By enhancing the opportunities for achievement and success for black males, well see positive personal development, stronger families, vibrant neighborhoods and an excellent quality of life.
A team 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 affect the social status of black males.
During that time, the National League of Cities provided support in the form of webinars, conference calls and information sharing. At the end of September, the league notified city leaders from Fort Wayne and 10 other cities that they will continue receiving technical assistance through August.
Its a blessing to the city to receive this kind of recognition, said Councilman Glynn Hines, 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, he said.
The Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males, which was re-established in June, has hosted a Back to School Fatherhood event and a health awareness program that provided health screenings in local barbershops.
There have been 38 homicides in Allen County this year, most of them involving black males – raising alarm in the community and calls to find a long-term solution. At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the City Council will host a discussion with the Urban League on finding solutions to the problem.
The National League of Cities 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 pledged to improve the lives 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 are 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, National League of Cities 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.