On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, non-profit, policy, philanthropy and community leaders gathered at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA to support the official launch of the Forward Promise National Program Office (NPO).
The launch program emphasized the importance of cultural and ancestral connections for boys and young men of color by beginning with a ceremonial call to the ancestors, featuring Native American tribute, drumming and flute, as well as African drumming and pouring of libations.The day continued with reflections and expressions of support from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and other foundation leaders; a dialogue among elders; and rich panel discussions among non-profit leaders, researchers and community leaders. The sessions were alternately moderated by Forward Promise Director, Dr. Howard Stevenson and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Trymaine Lee of MSNBC. Deputy Director Rhonda Bryant shared the initiative’s priority to actively engage the authentic voices of a diversity of boys and young men of color and as such, several stirring youth performances gave voice to their ideas and experiences. The day was capped by a networking reception with a live jazz band. The program was live-streamed on Forward Promise’s Youtube channel and there was active engagement on Twitter throughout the program.
The NPO’s work ahead will include facilitating grants to non-profits and providing technical assistance, field-building support and timely research and other resources to organizations seeking to impact boys and young men of color. The ultimate outcome of this healthy village-making is to create the conditions for boys and young men of color throughout the United States to heal, grow and thrive.