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The Voice of the Black Community


Helping boys find success
YBM Leadership Alliance mentors young
Published Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:27 am
by Valaida Fullwood

In observance of Black Philanthropy Month,  this series features African Americans engaged in  philanthropy 50 years after Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. Visit BlackPhilanthropyMonth.com to participate in strengthening African American and African-descent giving in all its forms.

John Martin is CEO and founder of YBM Leadership Alliance.

JOHN MARTIN, CEO and founder, YBM Leadership Alliance
• Black philanthropy is . . . Relevant, necessary and powerful, but it is also one of the most under-publicized and under-utilized assets in the black community.
Tell us more about YBM Leadership Alliance.

Young Black Male Leadership Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on leadership development, academic achievement, and college preparation for young black males.

Our primary goals are to build and equip the next generation of leaders; raise the high school and college graduation rates of young black men; and promote positive messages about successful young black men. Our vision is a new reality where young black men are assumed to be positive leaders in their personal lives, family, community, nation and worldwide.

The program is a unique, interactive, and engaging program designed to help young, black men reach their highest potential through leadership development, college preparation, and service learning.

What path led you to start this nonprofit organization?
I was distressed by the dismal high school graduation statistics for black males. The apparent apathy and lack of direction that seemed to absorb these young men was troubling. I was compelled to try to create a program that would have a positive impact on these young men and give them a mechanism to recognize their potential and create their success. I also knew there were black males who were high achievers, but did not receive the attention they deserved. I was joined by a group of like-minded individuals and together we built this organization that has had a positive impact on many young lives.

How is YBM Leadership Alliance having an impact on young men? Please share specific examples of what some of your participants are accomplishing.
Great question! We are extremely proud of our impact and results from this year.

More than 100 young Black men in the YBM program will be attending major colleges and universities this fall, including: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, Stanford University, Davidson College, Howard, Morehouse, N.C. A&T, Georgetown, Wake Forest and many others.

YBM graduates have received more than $2.1M in scholarships this year! Over 50 percent of the young men in the program received a scholarship of some type to attend college in the fall with 10 percent receiving a full scholarship.

This past school year the YBM Third Grade Reading Program matched 40 high- achieving black, male high school seniors with 49 black, male elementary school students across three schools. This group worked on improving reading literacy, character development, and academic engagement of the elementary school boys.
What are some of your thoughts on where America stands 50 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?

In many ways we are miles away from the place where Dr. King stood to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech, but at the same time our progress has not been as fast as many of us would like to see. We continue to move forward, but we take a few steps forward and sometimes a few steps backward. I believe Dr. King knew that our journey to the “dream” land was not going to be easy or short but that we would one day make it.

When it comes to society or our community, what is your “dream” or aspiration?
My dream is that every young black man would be looked upon as an asset to our global community and not something that needs to be fixed. I would like to see our young men labeled as success waiting to happen. Little black boys would come into school reading above grade level and would maintain the love for learning and would embrace the genius we all have inside of us throughout their entire lives.

In terms of your philanthropic endeavors, what’s your “mountaintop” or highest achievement to date?
By far my mountaintop achievement in terms of philanthropic endeavors is the creation of YBM Leadership Alliance. We are entering our seventh year of existence and we have a great leadership team and board of directors. I feel we have just started to scratch the surface on the type of impact we will have in the community. Since we are creating young leaders who are focused on giving back to the community, we are certain our philanthropic impact will last for many generations.



Great answers, John! Nice article, powerful interview. John, I hope to meet you soon. I'm the Founder/Executive Director of The Black Girls' Corner, Inc.?, here in Charlotte, NC. We, too, focus on strengthening leadership skills, we work with preteen/teen Black girls.
Posted on August 25, 2013
This is an outstanding challenge hich is addressing the needs of our young males. The mainstream media criminalizes and demonizes Black youth. Stories about the young folk in YBM wouldn't be of interest to consumers of the printed and electronic media outlets that castigate all young Black men and women.
Posted on August 23, 2013

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