Black Male Initiative

Black Male Initiative

Black Male Initiative Scholarship

In 2009, the Black Male Initiative was formed at Empire State College’s Metropolitan Center, based in New York City, to address a major concern – reduced retention rates among black male students. Ensuring students re-enroll from year to year is an issue for all student populations, but has become a crisis for black male students.

The Black Male Initiative evolved from a mentoring program into an energetic student and alumni group with activities as diverse as peer coaching, panel discussions, career counseling and support groups, student and alumni networking events, admissions outreach and social responsibility initiatives. The BMI taps the strength of alumni and the college’s expertise in mentoring to better connect black male students with faculty and instructors, student services and, most importantly, with each other.

In early 2013, the leaders of the BMI casually discussed the idea of “someday” forming a scholarship to encourage and support academically promising black men. This dedicated group asked themselves what they could do to make this idea a reality. Very quickly, they realized that forming a scholarship was an achievable goal, and that “someday” could be now. These leaders – BMI faculty advisor David A. Fullard, alumni peer learning coach Jay Marshall ’06 ’08, chairman of the BMI Steering Committee Keith Amparado ’88, faculty mentor Robert Carey, and BMI president Lawrence Johnson – created the Black Male Initiative Scholarship.

The founding members participated in the fundraising initiative for different reasons. To get the ball rolling, David Fullard was the first to contribute to the fund. Fullard reflected on the black men he had repeatedly encountered through his work with the New York City Department of Corrections, “For many of the inmates, education had been their last concern; but many of these young men were intelligent and academically capable, bordering on profoundly talented. It was clear to me that they would do well in school and likely go on to do great things, but the true crime was in their financial status and their lack of role models to help build their confidence.”

Bob Carey immediately jumped in with his support, along with Jay Marshall. “As an alumni peer learning coach, I have the privilege of speaking with BMI members, and I often hear students comment on how financial burdens are a determining factor in being able to continue in school,” Marshall said. Keith Amparado noted, “I know I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and I welcome this opportunity to champion my brothers and help underwrite their successes with my contribution.”

Marshall sums up a sentiment shared by the founders in their aspiration for the scholarship, “I hope this scholarship will inspire our men with a spirit of benevolence, that they will in turn give back to our community something to help make a difference in another’s life.”

Once the Black Male Initiative Scholarship was announced, the response from alumni and friends was astounding. The Black Male Initiative Scholarship is available to black male undergraduate students who are actively participating in the initiative at the Metropolitan Center, especially those students who demonstrate a commitment to improving their communities. Through the passion, devotion and enthusiasm of the initiative’s leaders, the Black Male Initiative Scholarship has indeed become a reality.

“Higher education has too long been ‘A Dream Deferred’ for black men in this country and finances must never be a barrier. The Black Male Initiative Scholarship is a unique way to level the playing field.”

– Keith Amparado ’88