The following post was written by Shawn Dove. It originally appeared on Open Society Foundations, under the title, “How Do You Quantify Hope for Black Men and Boys?”

By: Shawn Dove

How do you quantify hope? I’ve been asking myself this question recently in my role leading the Open Society Campaign for Black Male Achievement. The question increasingly presses on my heart and mind during this current moment of intensified focus on the disparities facing black men and boys in America, particularly with the increased demand for evidenced-based outcomes and for lifting up what truly works.

I come in contact with leaders, young and old, every day working hard to fuel the field of black male achievement, who give me hope that lasting change is possible. This week, the Foundation Center and their BMAfunders team published a report that should provide the nation with a recipe for quantifying hope for black men and boys.

Building a Beloved Community: Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement is a timely resource in light of a growing chorus of national initiatives focused on improving the life outcomes of black males. Based on interviews with 50 leaders in the social, academic, government, and business sectors, Building a Beloved Community maps the landscape of work in black male achievement and offers recommendations for what it will take to strengthen the field moving forward.

The report attempts to answer the question posed in the title of its 2012 companion report, Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys. It declares that we need to go where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described a generation ago as the Beloved Community—a nation fulfilling the pledge of its founding promise of “justice for all.”

About the Beloved Community, King said “we are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” This notion is linked to scholar and civil rights activist Lani Guinier’s premise that black men and boys are America’s “canaries in the mine”—that the inequities they face are inextricably connected to all citizens. In fact, it was Guinier’s premise that helped convince the Open Society U.S. Programs board of directors to launch the Campaign for Black Male Achievement in 2008. Since then, we have worked with countless partners to help catalyze the emerging leaders and organizations that are depicted in the Building a Beloved Community report.

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