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:
- Provide strong University leadership on the challenges facing black youth and men;
- Strengthen the school-to-college pipeline to enable many more black male students to move into higher education;
- Increase admission and graduation rates at CUNY colleges;
- Improve teacher education to prepare professionals for urban education;
- Improve employment prospects for black males;
- Contribute to the reduction of the incarceration rate for black men;
- Establish an Institute for the Achievement of Educational and Social Equity for Black Males;
- Involve experts in the implementation of the recommendations; and
- 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
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
CUNY OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS LIAISON TO CUNY BMI
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
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
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
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
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