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Young Leaders Learn Philanthropy

September 22nd, 2014 Back to Browse Stories

Pathway to Excellence Program Mentors the Next Generation of African-American Men

Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, also known as the Boulé, was the first Greek-letter fraternity founded by African-American men. Boulé is taken from the name of the councils of citizen advisors that played an important role in civic life in ancient Greece. We’re all familiar with college fraternities, but the Boulé’s members are chosen after completing their college and professional degrees and demonstrating high potential in their chosen fields.

Like its namesake, the Detroit chapter of the Boulé takes leadership and service seriously. The Pathway to Excellence Program was created to mentor the next generation of African-American men, empowering them with the skills and knowledge needed for high-level personal and professional achievement.

The Detroit chapter of the Boulé enlisted the Community Foundation as a partner in this mentoring program, believing that training in philanthropy is essential for future leaders. It was a perfect fit with the Community Foundation’s goal to give residents throughout our region a vision of themselves as philanthropists and givers, regardless of their stage in life or future career path.

Recently, 34 young men in the Pathways to Excellence Program learned firsthand about the process of evaluating grant proposals and funding requests. The high school students were divided into small groups and provided with one-page summaries of grant proposals currently under review at the Community Foundation (minus organization names and other identifying details to protect applicants’ confidentiality)

Each small group reviewed two proposals and was tasked with selecting the most promising, then presenting their justification via a two-minute “pitch” to the group. Each participant then had the option of voting for two of the proposals or casting both votes for a single project.

Through this process, the “Earn-A-Bike” program developed by Urban Neighborhood Initiatives was chosen. When the winner was announced, we surprised the group by informing them that this was no mere hypothetical exercise; based on their recommendation, the organization would be receiving a grant of $30,000.

Funds supporting the Pathway to Excellence Program come from the Imani Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided the assets for this fund through its donor advisor, Howard Sims.