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As a CUNY-wide initiative, CUNY BMI’s mission is to increase, encourage, and support the inclusion and educational success of students from groups that are severely underrepresented in higher education, in particular African, African American/Black, Caribbean and Latino/Hispanic males.


CUNY BMI’s vision is to create model projects throughout the University that are intended to provide additional layers of academic and social support for students from populations that are severely underrepresented in higher education, particularly African, African American/Black, Caribbean and Latino/Hispanic males. It is expected that BMI program activity will be institutionalized and absorbed into academic departments and student affairs offices throughout the University for the benefit of students from underrepresented populations including African, African American/Black, Caribbean, and Latino/Hispanic males and, ultimately, all CUNY students.


  • Increase the enrollment and matriculation of underrepresented students.
  • Increase retention of underrepresented students.
  • Improve the overall grade point average of underrepresented students.
  • Increase the graduation rate of underrepresented students.

In May of 2004, the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York unanimously approved its Master Plan for 2004-2008. This comprehensive planning document included for the first time in the University’s history a “Chancellor’s Initiative on the Black Male in Education.”

In the fall of 2004, Chancellor Goldstein established a University Task Force on the Black Male Initiative. He asked Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Selma Botman to identify faculty members and administrators with relevant knowledge and expertise to serve on the Task Force and charged it with developing recommendations that would include a series of action-oriented projects to help black males overcome the inequalities that lead to poor academic performance in the K-12 system, the attendant weak enrollment, retention, and graduation from institutions of higher education, and high rates of joblessness and incarceration.

During its six months of deliberations, the Task Force was presented with convincing evidence that black males in New York City and beyond face patterns of ongoing and distinctive discrimination in many aspects of their lives, most evidently in education, in treatment by the criminal justice system, and in employment. The discrimination they face has profound consequences for their well-being and security, and is manifested in unacceptably high rates of leaving school before high school graduation and imprisonment and in unacceptably low rates of postsecondary degree completion and stable participation in the work force. These grim realities have adverse impacts on family members and communities.

In its final report to the Chancellor, the Task Force proposed nine major recommendations, including:

  1. Provide strong University leadership on the challenges facing black youth and men;
  2. Strengthen the school-to-college pipeline to enable many more black male students to move into higher education;
  3. Increase admission and graduation rates at CUNY colleges;
  4. Improve teacher education to prepare professionals for urban education;
  5. Improve employment prospects for black males;
  6. Contribute to the reduction of the incarceration rate for black men;
  7. Establish an Institute for the Achievement of Educational and Social Equity for Black Males;
  8. Involve experts in the implementation of the recommendations; and
  9. Establish benchmarks and hold Colleges accountable for implementing these recommendations.

After hearings before the Higher Education Committee of the New York City Council chaired by the Honorable Charles Barron, the University was awarded funding from the New York City Council and began to implement some of the aforementioned recommendations. Through the initial grant, fifteen (15) demonstration projects were funded designed to improve the enrollment and/or graduation rates of students from underrepresented groups, particularly black males. Funding was also allocated to increase opportunities for individuals without a high school diploma to enroll in GED courses oriented towards college preparation; to provide support for formerly incarcerated individuals to enroll in college; and to survey workforce development opportunities in New York City’s construction industry. The second grant was used to support the continuation of most of the initial projects; to extend the initiative to all CUNY colleges and to the Graduate Center; to expand a research project begun at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to other CUNY colleges; and to implement a community health survey at the Hunter School of Social Work. Though targeted towards black males, these projects do not discriminate based on race or gender and will serve as models for improving educational outcomes of all students. All programs and activities of the Black Male Initiative are open to all academically eligible students, faculty and staff, without regard to race, gender, national origin or other characteristic. Now, in its tenth year, the CUNY BMI program continues to grow and build on the successes of the past nine years.

Jermaine Wright, Interim University Associate Dean, Office of Special Programs

Jermaine Wright, Ph.D. is the Interim University Associate Dean of Special Programs at the City University of New York (CUNY). Dr. Wright is charged with the stewardship of key University programs that increase, encourage and support the inclusion and educational success of underrepresented groups in higher education. These programs include the Percy Ellis Sutton Search for Education Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) Program, College Discovery Program, the CUNY Black Male Initiative, the Single Stop College Initiative, CUNY’s TRIO programs, and the CUNY Foster Youth College Success Initiative (Youth Matter).

Dr. Wright has over a decade of experience in organizational effectiveness, leadership development, performance measurement and improvement, diversity/inclusion, management and operations, and fundraising/development. His leadership reflects an abiding commitment to the core values of educational access and excellence. Before becoming the Interim University Associate Dean, Dr. Wright was the University Director of CUNY BMI where he was responsible for monitoring and leading the progress of 31 campus-based BMI projects across the CUNY system dedicated to increasing, encouraging, and supporting the inclusion and educational success of underrepresented groups in higher education, particular men of color. Read More

Prior to his work at CUNY, Dr. Wright worked at the National Urban League as a Regional Program Manager for the Urban Youth Empowerment Program (UYEP), a comprehensive workforce development model for disconnected and adjudicated youth between the ages of 18 -24. Dr. Wright’s other work experience includes monitoring the employment status of clients transitioning from public assistance to the workforce as a Site Supervisor at Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement and developing workshops/special events for low-wage workers as an AmeriCorps member.
In his spare time, he serves as a mentor to young people through Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., an international service organization predicated on achievement and the uplifting of underserved low-income communities.

Dr. Wright earned a dual Bachelor’s in Political Science and Sociology from Binghamton University, a Master’s in Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration with a focus on Performance Measurement and Improvement from Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA). His dissertation research titled, “Equity as an Outcome: The Use of Performance Information to Address the Achievement Gap in Higher Education for Men of Color,” focused on equity and the use of performance information to make strategic decisions in higher education.

Shawn Best, Interim University Director, CUNY Black Male Initiative

Shawn Best is the Interim University Director of the Black Male Initiative at the City University of New York (CUNY BMI). Best previously served as the second University Associate Director for CUNY BMI from September 2014 until April 2018, and as a Project Coordinator for the Black Male Initiative at Hunter College from January 2012 until September 2014. As the Associate Director, he co-developed and implemented the site visit structure, a re-branding overhaul and a best practices model for 31 CUNY BMI projects serving over 3,000 students CUNY wide. He also managed and provided technical assistance to approximately 100 administrators/faculty members throughout CUNY system who run BMI projects. He comes to the Central Office with over 20 years of experience working in Residence Life, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Athletics and Admissions.

Best received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Vermont in May, 2000. He received his Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration from New York University in May, 2004. Best’s passions lie in helping college students experience holistic success and receive mentorship. In particular, Best’s journey to his current career was paved with mentorship from some of the top African American male college administrators in the country including Douglas Samuels and Allen McFarlane. At New York University, Best worked with Allen McFarlane to co-found ‘Brothers For Success’, a student affairs support program for primarily black male students, that was funded by the New York Times. Read More

Best also enjoys performing as a musician in and around New York City as well as personal training, writing and speaking at colleges around the country to inspire staff, faculty and students to ‘Be Your Best’ through his company, Best Solutions NYC. He also co-founded Wright Best Consulting Group in 2017, loves to blog, and has written a book called ‘Change Your Perspective’ that is available on Amazon and Kindle. With over 20 years of higher education experience, Shawn is an excellent communicator and creative problem solver with a unique skill of finding the best solutions to organizational problems. Once deployed, Best has an assertive commitment to follow through on implementation and accountability. With nationally recognized leadership skills by the Association of College Personnel Administrators (ACPA) as the Northeast Regional Chair of the Housing Committee, he works well within diverse communities that embrace positive change. Best is near completion of his doctoral degree in Organization Leadership at Northeastern University with plans to complete in 2018 with graduation in 2019.


McDonald-Ian James, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Liaison, CUNY Black Male Initiative

McDonald-Ian James is the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Liaison to The City University of New York Black Male Initiative (CUNY BMI) and the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.  He earned an A.A. degree from Medgar Evers College/CUNY and a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science from the CUNY BA Program in 2004. James later earned a M.A. in International Relations from The City College of New York/CUNY.  James  received an advance certificate in Immigration Law from the School of Professional Studies/CUNY in 2008. He also completed the Institute of Education Management at Harvard Graduate School of Education and the American College Personnel Association Management Institute. Read More

As a student, James was involved in a number of activities that would have overwhelmed someone without his time management and organizational skills. At Medgar Evers College, James was Associate Editor of the student newspaper Adafi, a member of the College’s chapter of the American Black Social Workers, and a student leader in the Male Development and Empowerment Center (MDEC). He also served as a student representative on the planning and budgetary committees for Medgar Evers College’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the campus Library and Information Services. James assisted his fellow students at Medgar Evers College as an English tutor and invested in the next generation of college students by serving as an after-school program mentor at a high school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He represented Medgar Evers College at the 3rd annual Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund leadership conference as well as at a Congressional Black Caucus conference on The State of the African American Male. In 2003, James was a recipient of the Hawks International Youth Organization’s “Project Under-Wing” Scholarship and the Diego Hidalgo Scholarship, both designed to assist students studying Political Science. Additionally, he received the Harriet Brows scholarship for social change and the Thomas W. Smith academic scholarship. In 2004, James served as an congressional intern in the office of United States Representative Major Owens. James is currently a doctoral student with a focus on higher education leadership at Delaware Valley University. James’ email address is:

The CUNY BMI Advisory Board members assist CUNY BMI in developing the future direction of the program, provide and/or garner resources for the program, and serve as ambassadors for the program. CUNY BMI Advisory Board members serve a 2-year term with the possibility of serving more than one term and help procure financial resources to assist 30+ CUNY BMI projects.  Here are some of the goals for CUNY BMI over the next two years, to which the CUNY BMI Advisory Board will hold us accountable:

  • To increase the number of students participating in CUNY BMI from 3,000 to 25,000 .
  • To expand the CUNY BMI network to include the greater Black Male Achievement community across the country.
  • To expand our fundraising efforts to procure grants and sponsorships that would allow us increase its budget from $2.5M to $5M annually.
  • To make CUNY BMI the most expansive and successful men of color student development program within CUNY and throughout the nation.

Here are the active CUNY BMI Advisor Board Members for the 2016-2016 academic year:

Dorian Burton, Ed.L.D.

Dorian Burton, Ed.L.D., is currently the Assistant Executive Director and Chief Program Officer at the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust in Chapel Hill, NC, a foundation that supports the education advancement at all levels with programs and activities that hold exceptional value. He was formerly the Co-­‐Director of The TandemED Initiative for Black Male Achievement and Community Improvement at Harvard University Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and was the Wasserman Foundation Fellow in the Doctor of Education Leadership Program at Harvard. Prior to Harvard, Dr. Burton worked as an independent consultant with various non-­‐profits and school districts between Harlem, NY; Houston, TX; and Newark, NJ. In his role as a consultant, Burton worked to provide strategic support to Newark Public School principals in the launch of their Renew School Turnaround initiative. In addition, he worked in a special projects role to develop external partnerships for the Harlem Children’s Zone College Success Office. Read More

Dr. Burton started his professional career working for the National Football League and also served as the founding Program Director of the Education Pioneers Houston Office, the Houston Director of Stand for Children, and the Chief Strategy Officer for TandemED. In addition to his doctorate degree from Harvard, Burton holds a Master’s degree in higher education from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University and a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Pennsylvania State University, where he also was a member of the varsity football team.

During Dr. Burton’s tenure at Harvard as a Wasserman Family Fellow, he was selected to the Dean’s Committee on equity and diversity, served as a Teaching Fellow for Lani Guinier at Harvard Law School and was awarded the International Marshall Memorial Fellowship from the German Marshall Fund. Additionally, Dr. Burton was a Gordon Ambach Fellow with the National Governors Association Education Division and The North Carolina Department       of Public Instruction, as well as a non Resident Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

Dr. Burton currently resides in Durham, NC. He is deeply driven by his faith, and is the proud son of two wonderful scholarly parents, the father of four great children, and brother to three older sisters who serve as his inspiration, comic relief, and confidants.

Online: In 2014 Dr. Burton was selected to the Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40.” He has his own blog on Huffington Post and tweets frequently @Dorian_Burton. He has also been published in the Boston Globe.

Shawn Dove

Shawn Dove defines the movement for black male achievement as America’s unfinished business, recalling a long history of discrimination faced by Black men and boys. As Manager of Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, he addressed the exclusion of Black men and boys from economic, social, educational, and political life in the United States, elevating and connecting catalytic leaders and organizations to champion Black men and boys as assets in our nation and communities. To create a pipeline of catalytic leaders, he launched the Black Male Achievement Fellowship. In less than a year, his Institute for Black Male Achievement recruited more than 1,600 leaders from 1,400 organizations nationwide. In 2013, Shawn hosted the Innovation and Impact Forum for Black Male Achievement, gathering more than 250 leaders across sectors in New York under the theme “What Winning Looks Like: Investing in What Works.” Shawn transitioned the program from OSF to a freestanding entity in 2015 and is now the Chief Executive Officer of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. His mantra for the movement is, “there is no cavalry coming to save the day for Black men and boys in America – we are the iconic leaders that we have been waiting for.” Read More

Shawn also served as one of the founding directors of New York City’s Beacon School movement in the early 1990s while working with the Harlem Children’s Zone. As creative communities director for the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts he led a national initiative that partnered community schools of the arts and public housing

In 2006, Shawn founded Proud Poppa, a publication for African American fathers and is a co-founder of Harlem Men Stand Up, an empowerment project that holds quarterly summits in Harlem. He was a Charles H. Revson Fellow at Columbia University in 1993 and received a BA in English from Wesleyan University.

Corey Fernandes

Corey Fernandes began his career at the Municipal Credit Union (MCU) as a Loan Originator in the Mortgage Department. Helping prospective homeowners address issues like credit repair on their way to realizing the “American Dream.” As Vice President of Business Development & Member Relations, Fernandes now spearheads the credit union’s community outreach campaign, where he continues to develop new ways to help lift communities up.

As part of their community outreach efforts, Fernandes and MCU have displayed a strong commitment to the youth of New York. In partnership with the Department of Education, the City University of New York, and the Daily News, MCU sponsored the “Build a Better School Contest,” where students created three-minute videos highlighting a particular need in their school. From a pool of 61 schools, MCU awarded four finalists $5,000 each. The grand-prize winner, School by the Sea in Far Rockaway, Queens, was awarded $10,000 – which was matched by the United Federation of Teachers – to rebuild classrooms destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Plans are currently underway to make the contest an annual event. Read More

Fernandes has also collaborated with the New York Police Department to distribute 1,400 turkeys on Thanksgiving to families in need. MCU also paid a visit to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, where Fernandes and his team prepared dinner for it patients.

In collaboration with government, labor and media partners, Fernandes has also helped organize “Youth Empowerment Day”—a full slate of activities for hundreds of students from all five boroughs featuring panel discussions and radio and television personalities as guest speakers. The event also includes a dance contest for students—and teachers.

Joshua Humbert

With more than a decade of experience in major gift fundraising, millennial strategies and Founder of the EnVest Foundation, Joshua Humbert brings an exceptional understanding of the core principles of development to the conversation of philanthropy. He serves as the Vice President of Philanthropic Strategies & Major Gifts for the National Urban League, a historic civil rights and direct services organization. He is responsible for overseeing the organizations advancement of Major Gifts and partnerships to help ensure that each year over 2.8 million people are served across 88 Urban League affiliates in 35 states, in over 300 urban communities. Joshua is apart of a Movement that works hard everyday to improve the lives of minorities and under-served constituents with services free of charge. This equates to an enterprise wide $350 million revenue budget and $1.06 Billion economic impact. Read More


Prior to joining the League, Joshua served as Director of Development at Spelman College, where he helped deliver the largest HBCU capital campaign of $157 million. In addition, Joshua played a pivotal role at the University of Maryland’s first billion-dollar campaign where he served as their National Director of Emerging Markets. He has held responsibilities such as Regional Director of Development for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington DC, where he was responsible for managing a $4M dollar development budget, overseeing the fundraising priorities and serving as the development liaison to their 35 member regional board of directors.

Joshua received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Norfolk State University, a Certified Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP), and holds a Master’s Degree in Philanthropic Studies, from The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Joshua is dedicated to advancing and deepening the understanding of philanthropy in the lives of working-wealth professionals. He has a specific focus on the role private philanthropy plays in developing civil society, economic empowerment and closing the inequality gap.

Joshua Humbert