20 black leadership award winners to share $200,000

Posted: May 15, 2013

Twenty Philadelphia men will receive a combined $200,000 as winners of black leadership awards, the Knight Foundation announced Tuesday.

The BMe Leadership Awards - BMe stands for "black male engagement" - are given to men who are working to make their communities stronger, the foundation said, which has a complete list of Philadelphia winners here.

Trabian Shorters, founder of BMe, said that "there are thousands of black men who are assets to their communities - and if the rest of us got behind people like these, the city would have more to celebrate."

BMe is a network of black men in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Baltimore, that includes professionals, academics, and organizers working on an assortment of community projects.

"There is no cavalry coming to save the day in communities across America. The visionary leaders that many are waiting for are already here," said Shawn Dove of Open Society Foundations, which also funds BMe.

Chris Rabb, an adjunct faculty member at Temple University, was awarded $20,000 to develop workshops to teach social entrepreneurship to low-wealth individuals.

Rabb, author of Invisible Capital: How Unseen Forces Shape Entrepreneurial Opportunity, said he shows people how to "build commonwealth enterprises" that produce benefits for the community.

For example, he described starting a barbershop that was geared toward offering living-wage jobs for ex-offenders who cut hair.

What if you could turn something like that into a chain of shops? he asked.

Rabb said he expected to hold the workshops this summer.

Michael Gross and Bryheem Charity were awarded $10,000 to promote their efforts to "make science cool" in urban schools.

They created S.T.E.A.M. Rising to stir "real interest, a passion, a focus, on science as a career," said Gross, a Drexel University graduate.

S.T.E.A.M. represents science, technology, engineering, and math, known in educational circles as "STEM," with the arts included to add the "A," Gross said.

Christopher Norris of South Philadelphia was awarded $5,000 to bolster Techbook Online, a local news outlet for people and stories that are "routinely marginalized and left out of the headlines" of the mainstream media, he said.

Norris said the money would help pay for equipment upgrades and for expanding the marketing reach of Techbook Online, which he started with Arthur L. Griffin Jr.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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