Black Male Initiative Program
In 2007, President Walter Kimbrough led the charge to address the challenges faced by Black men and to ensure their college success. The president pulled together a committee to explore new ways to engage the men at Philander Smith College, resulting in the formation of the Black Male Initiative (BMI).
Through a series of special programming, events and activities, BMI provides opportunities for male students to connect with each other, faculty and staff and community role models with the goal of positively impacting these students' college experiences all the way up to graduation.
To provide relevant experiences for males that will ensure success academically, professionally and socially through development in the following areas:
-Social Justice Issues
-Cultural and spiritual Awareness
The retention efforts are supported by two of the four BMI peer educators serving as tutors in our Academic Success Center. This year, the tutors received requests from 70 percent of the males in the Academic Success Center. Another strategy that is impacting male retention is the Early Alert program which serves to help identify students who need academic intervention.
Our internal goal is to engage 50 percent of the males enrolled on campus in an activity or event. In 2010 the goal was reached, and the participation was exactly 50 percent. In 2011, the rate increased to nearly 75 percent.
Peer Educators are an important BMI resource. They receive a stipend to develop and implement programs for BMI participants. These mentors help hone participants’ leadership skills and provide tutoring services to students throughout the semester to ensure classroom excellence and academic success.
BMI strives to make positive connections through volunteer opportunities, such as reading to public school elementary students and engaging male students in activities such as Mid-term Pizza Study Break, which provides tutors during a study session where pizza is served; and Real Talk…What Real Women Want in a Man, a convergence that allows free, safe and open discussions on relationships.
BMI sponsored an oratory contest that challenged speakers to expound on the tenets of the Five Wells: well dressed, well spoken, well read, well traveled and well balanced
. Past winners received an all-expenses paid trip to see hip-hop artist Jay-Z perform in concert. Additionally, BMI affords opportunities for cultural enlightenment, for instance a group of BMI participants attended the Broadway production of Stomp
. Recently BMI members enjoyed a performance of the play "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
Each school year, BMI kicks off with a speaker in the Fall. We have had hip-hop icon, TV personality, and author Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons and most recently former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Many asked, "Why bring a convicted former mayor who served time for lying under oath about having an affair with his chief-of-staff?"
"Considering what this man has experienced, we thought he'd be a great speaker to address our young black men who have challenges of their own," said BMI director Michael Hutchinson. "Our motto is 'Think Justice,' and we want our students to learn how someone like Kwame Kilpatrick has fallen from grace and into the justice system, rebounds and publicly faces life's challenges. Our students read about him and want to learn from his mistakes as well as their own."
To be a part of this initiative, contact the President’s Office (501) 370-5382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Philander Smith College Black Male Initiative is supported, in part, by a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
For 35 years, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has worked to make a difference by helping to build and sustain the organizations that serve and strengthen Arkansas. Through grantmaking and strategic partnerships, WRF is working even harder to help close the economic and educational gaps that leave too many Arkansas families in persistent poverty. Working together, the needle can and must move from poverty to prosperity for all Arkansans. For more information on the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, go to www.wrfoundation.org.