BMe Community Amplifies Black Love and Power with $370,000 in Grants to 37 BMe Vanguard Awardees


( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) BMe Uses Asset-Framing To Build Racial Equity

ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabrielle Maya 

The BMe Community is celebrating their new honorees for the BMe Vanguard Awards. With the help of the McKnight Foundation, the NBA Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, and The Ballmer Group, a $370,000 grant was awarded to the Vanguard Award honorees. Each honoree received a $10,000 grant which included enrollment in a leadership enrichment program. In addition to the award, they have access to BMe’s knowledge and peer networks. BMe Community celebrates Black leadership and focuses on philanthropic work to build racial equity. BMe Community’s mission is “building more caring and prosperous communities inspired by Black people.” 

According to Trabian Shorters, Co-Founder and CEO of BMe Community, “The BMe Vanguard Award honors those whose love builds power. Most of the leaders are unsung but deeply trusted by those in their communities.” BMe’s social impact is rooted in cognitive and social psychology called ‘Asset-Framing’ Asset-Framing is a way to define Black people and all people by their aspirations and contributions before addressing their issues, this can build racial equity without the stigmatization.

BMe Community 2023 Black L.O.V.E. (Live, Own, Vote, Excel)

According to the 2023 BMe Vanguard and Co-Founder of Shape the Nation, Ron Harris, “The BMe Vanguard Award is an honor and recognition of being someone with a deep, unapologetic love for Black people. It’s beautiful to see what’s possible when we’re focused on what’s right about us instead of the messages that we consistently receive about what’s wrong with us.”

The 2023 BMe Vanguard Awardees are: Aaron Randolph, Adair Mosley, Alvertis Brooks Jr., Andre Reed, Angelica Williams, Anwar McQueen, Bianca Van Heydoorn, Braxton Haulcy, Bryce Detroit, Darrian Hollonquest, Davonte Johnson, Dr. Chanel Beebe, Dr. Chanel Hampton, Dr. Laine Powell, Funlola Otukoya, Imani Harris, Ivy Ellington, Ja’Sent Brown, Jack Williams III, Jalyn Baity, James Parker, Jasmine ‘Jae’ Webb, Jeffrey Aguy, Jelani Stowers, Joy Lindsay, Justin Onwenu, Kisha Evans, Leona Medley, Marc Owens, Marcus Owens, Rafiq Kalam Id-Din, Roxxanne O’Brien, Ron Harris, Sade Daniels, Shawntera Hardy, Tatyana Denson, and Alex West Steinman. The awardees of 2023 will join a network of 400 previous Vanguard recipients.

To learn more about the BMe Community, their motives, the start of the Vanguard Awards Program, the 2023 honorees, the approach to asset framing and its benefits, and how the honorees will utilize their grants; ENSPIRE has interviewed BMe.

What was the inspiration and motive to start BMe Community? 

Black people are extraordinary every day. We lead the nation in rates of military service, entrepreneurship, giving to charity,  and fathers who are actively engaged in raising their children. Despite this, we often overlook our role as America’s most patriotic, enterprising, generous, and engaged citizens, contrary to data. In 2013, BMe Community started as a project under Trabian Shorters, Vice President of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. This initiative forms a national network of inspired Black individuals, building upon Black love to make a better society for everyone. 

When did the Vanguard Awards Program begin and what is the mission? 

Since BMe Community’s 2013 launch, the BMe Vanguard Honors program, formerly known by various names, has aimed to recognize Black individuals naturally inclined to uplift others. This program fosters a peer community, offering resources like a $10k angel grant, to enhance their knowledge, influence, and networks. 

How have the honorees of this year and in previous years utilized their BMe resources and grants? 

BMe Vanguard Honorees encompass a diverse range of individuals, such as Constance Paton, the visionary behind the Black gifting company “Bifties,” which experienced growth through her funds and BMe Community connections. “Our vision is to see a world where Black-owned businesses are thriving, and communities are strengthened through economic empowerment,” says BMe Vanguard honoree Constance Paton, founder, and CEO of Bifties.  

Similarly, Damion Cooper utilized his resources to launch Project Pneuma, a Baltimore-based non-profit dedicated to imparting life skills to young Black boys through Social-Emotional  Learning. Remarkably, BMe’s support has marked the inaugural investment for about two-thirds of the 500 Black-led initiatives it has backed. 

Following BMe’s endorsement and financial support of these unsung ventures, they have proven to raise an average of over 50 times the initial $10k angel grant. Yet, the true essence of BMe lies within its communal spirit. A  resounding 100% of members engage in collaborations with peers, with the average member fostering 11 new alliances within the inaugural year. Notably, BMe membership is lifelong,  reflecting the enduring commitment to empowerment and partnership. 

When did the idea of ‘Asset-Framing’ come to fruition, why do you think this hasn’t been considered before in businesses?

 In 2011, Trabian Shorters conceived the phrase “Asset Framing” as a direct counter to reducing individuals to their challenges. Drawing from a  comprehensive study of cognitive, social, and cultural psychology, he discerned that associating  Black individuals primarily with negativity activates the mind’s threat response. This innate reaction inclines us toward avoidance, control, or even aggression. This revelation underpins the resolute significance of asset framing in reshaping perceptions and fostering an empowered,  affirmative outlook. 

What are some of the qualifications BMe Community looks for when selecting the honorees for Vanguard Awards and why? 

BMe Community seeks a distinct personality known as “The  Builder” – genuine, skilled, unwaveringly positive, and driven by love. These individuals earn trust through their unwavering commitment to their communities, embodying giving and empowerment. The BMe Vanguard Honors application process is unique; recommendations are solicited from community circles and networks. Nominees are meticulously vetted, extending invitations to those who align with the profile. This united community, composed of diverse individuals akin to brothers and sisters, forms a collective force of impactful change agents from all levels of society. 

What are some simple solutions other than ‘Asset-Framing’ that we as a community can do to increase racial equity? 

The number one thing we can all do to enhance equity is to recognize that a Black woman receiving 68 cents for the same job as a white man entails 32 cents of inequity. Equity, fundamentally, is a financial concept before a moral one. It represents the bedrock of fairness and justice. Thus, Black individuals must evaluate their earnings to attain equity. It is equitable for you to retain rightfully earned home equity. Equally, it is just for individuals to keep what they have earned: equal pay, job opportunities, police protection,  voting rights, etc. 

Asset-Framing Black individuals underscores aspirations and contributions,  revealing their rightful earnings. You have earned the entire dollar, property value, job consideration, legal protection, and voting access. It is not about favors; it is about acknowledging your hard-earned rights. This realization paves the way for claiming what is deserved. Otherwise, celebrating 80 cents on the dollar amounts to tolerating a 20% loss while others retain full value. 

Please talk about your Knowledge Influence Network and what are some of the courses and skills that leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners can learn. 

BMe Vanguard members undergo skills training, which encompasses asset framing, cultural competency, mutual wellness care, and more. This training amplifies their influence and grows as they cultivate a  high-trust network. Impressively, 85% of members affirm that BMe is “incredibly effective” in fostering trust among them. 

What is the Black L.O.V.E Fund and how can we donate? 

L.O.V.E. stands for Live, Own, Vote,  Excel – these are the four aspirations and contributions that Black movements consistently endeavor to cultivate, both for themselves and for others. Movements for Black Lives, Black  Ownership, Black Voting Rights, and Black Excellence have always persisted. Our Black L.O.V.E.  Fund empowers the Black Builders who realize these ambitions for all individuals. 

Every donation is deposited to Black-owned OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in  America, where it is leveraged 2.5 times for property loans in previously redlined low-to-moderate-income communities. Subsequently, these funds support Black-led initiatives fostering  Living, Owning, Voting, and Excelling for all. Teri Williams, an Owner of OneUnited, stands as a BMe Vanguard Honoree. Notably, she has never received a grant from us but instead has actively contributed to us and other Builders to nurture Black L.O.V.E.

The BMe Community is making a difference in how we view our diverse community. Giving others proper equity for their efforts and contributions to society will help improve our world and how we treat others. The Vanguard Awards are toward a future where we celebrate leaders, allies, bosses, and the community. For more information on BMe Community visit Follow Trabian Shorters to get updated information about the awards and grants. Stay up to date on their Instagram page for new events and awards.

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