Saving America’s Black Boys (SABB) Solutions Summit
Saving America’s Black Boys (SABB) Solutions Summit
By Mike Green
March 5, 2013 marks an unprecedented moment in American history when a group of concerned stakeholders from around the nation will gather in Austin, Texas at the George Washington Carver Museum to address the issue of investing in cultivating the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of America’s Black boys.
The Saving America’s Black Boys (SABB) Solutions Summit on March 5 will follow a March 4 presentation of Saving America’s Black Boys at SXSWedu by a panel I organized, which consists of the following innovators:
- Johnathan Holifield, Esq. — Vice President of Inclusive Competiveness at Nortech, a tech-based economic development powerhouse covering 21 counties in Northeast Ohio.
- Chad Womack, Ph.D. — National Director of STEM Education and Director of Merck Fellows Program for the United Negro College Fund.
- James Staton Jr. — Successful business owner for more than two decades in North Carolina and the son of sharecroppers.
- Jermaine Dupri — Grammy award-winning music producer and tech entrepreneur.
This panel will deliver a visionary solution-oriented framework that represents the culmination of thought leadership at The America21 Project, which I co-founded with Holifield and Womack. The alignment of public education with the 21st century industry landscape offers a big picture understanding of the high wage workforce and high-growth entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in the current global innovation economy to youth who are steeped in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math).
SXSWedu invited me to present this session based upon a series I wrote in 2012 for the Huffington Post titled, “3 Ways to Save America’s Black Boys.” That series introduced three investments I believe will profoundly change the trajectory of the lives of millions of America’s Black boys.
I am often asked why I focus on the plight of Black boys. Here are three primary reasons:
I was once a Black boy and can personally identify with the extreme hardships, challenges, confusion and anger inherent in growing up in a hostile society with little guidance and low expectations.
The lack of generational knowledge and solid family foundation upon which to build my life meant starting from the unenviable position of being lost and confused while the conveyor belt of time carried me through substandard public schools into teen adulthood and dumped me into a capitalist society that viewed my zero net worth more as a liability than an asset.
The simplistic marketing mantra (to which I was exposed) that described education leading solely to limited job opportunities ignored the overwhelming evidence of entrepreneurial endeavors and essential networks that rewarded creativity and innovation.
America’s 21st Century Economic Imperative
So, why should the nation be as concerned as I am with the plight of America’s Black boys? Here are three primary reasons (through the prism of American capitalism):
The innovative brain trust inherent in America’s Black boys is a tremendous asset that, with responsible investment of patient capital in all its forms, will yield results that substantially increase the economic competitiveness of the nation.
Investing in high expectations for America’s Black boys is an active demonstration of the growing maturity of a nation that has long been extremely hostile toward this demographic group. Such investments will yield greater opportunities for Black boys and help produce future generations of intact families that pass down generational knowledge, wealth, increased net worth and development of stronger communities. This dynamic benefits all of America in myriad ways.
Investing in low expectations for America’s Black boys will continue to yield higher rates of anger, hostility, violence, distrust, disconnect, poverty, illegal entrepreneurial activity, imprisonment, and both family and community dissolution. Such a downward trajectory of a growing populace creates societal and economic problems that undermine the capacity and strength of America while escalating dis-ease within.
Austin SABB Solutions Summit
How will the SABB Solutions Summit address the deeply entrenched problems affecting communities wherein most of America’s Black boys are raised? Here are three primary expectations of the summit:
Diagnose: The SABB Solutions Summit will address the information disconnect among leaders and influencers of America’s Black boys. If the leaders and influencers of Black boys are disconnected from the 21st century innovation ecosystem, it is reasonable to expect our youth will remain so. The lack of generational knowledge of America’s economic evolution being passed down through the 20th century has resulted in a systemic disconnection from the knowledge network of the nation’s 21st century innovation economy and the pipelines that lead to economic opportunity. The SABB Solutions Summit will diagnose the disconnections and provide attendees an awareness and insight into essential economic frameworks.
Identify: The economic narrative, language and lexicon of the 21st century innovation economy is largely unfamiliar to those disconnected from its processes. The SABB Solutions Summit will help attendees understand the language of the local innovation ecosystem and identify its principals and drivers, from the pipeline of STEM education to the productivity sectors of high-wage industry and high-growth tech entrepreneurship fueled by risk capital investments.
Demonstrate: There is no better persuasion than demonstration of opportunity. The SABB Solutions Summit will bring together cutting-edge Black tech entrepreneurs, investors, K-12 and higher education leaders, policymakers, business owners, philanthropists, pro athletes, celebrity entertainers, community leaders, clergy, media and national exposure. The network of 100+ leaders and influencers at the SABB Solutions Summit will be challenged to demonstrate a willingness to commit to work together and develop infrastructure in disconnected communities based upon a framework that will produce a bridge to the existing innovation ecosystem and a pipeline of opportunity. Additionally, the presence of Black tech entrepreneurs at the summit will showcase evidence of the existence of overlooked Black innovators who are developing opportunity in the nation’s economic blind spot.
SABB National Campaign
The SABB Solutions Summit in Austin will kick-off the SABB National Campaign that consists of an online messaging platform and a series of offline catalytic summits in targeted cities that leave behind seeds of collaboration, prospective investments in local assets and the building of bridges to the existing innovation ecosystem that cultivate new networks and opportunity to stimulate economic growth in the region.
Saving America’s Black Boys is a national economic imperative.
America must overcome the inertia inherent in ignoring the growing problem of a school to prison pipeline, which leaves families and communities devastated by destructive behavior. The SABB Campaign opens doors of information, awareness and enlightenment for leaders and influencers. It offers pathways to economic opportunity for students, professionals, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and those who invest in the innovation ecosystem to generate job growth and generational wealth. An investment in saving America’s Black boys is an investment in growing more of America’s innovative assets.
You can help. Investing in the SABB Campaign helps support this historic 21st century economic imperative. Join the campaign today. Help start an unprecedented national movement to save America’s Black boys and grow America’s innovative assets.
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BECOME A SPONSOR:
Join the Portland Development Commission,Game Changerz, Inc. and Top Flight LLC in sponsoring the SABB Solution Solutions Summit.
About Saving America’s Black Boys:
The SABB National Campaign is partnered with Game Changerz, Inc. (Tammara McDonald, founder and president; Diatra James, vice president) and Top Flight LLC. (Managing Partner, Jim Staton Jr).