Learn about the Boys and Men of Color Initiative from Say Yes Buffalo
Wednesday October 28th – Buffalo, NY
A new feature for our bi-monthly newsletter will see us spotlight a different partner each time, from the corporate and community sectors and some of our awesome volunteers.
This month, along with corporate partner CTBK, we’re delighted to put the spotlight on an initiative from Say Yes Buffalo called Breaking Barriers – Boys and Men of Color Initiative. We caught up with long-term friend Daniel Robertson, the Program Manager, about how they’re coping during the pandemic, how the support from Victory Sports has helped them over the years, and much more….
- What does your organization do and who do you serve? The Breaking Barriers Youth Leadership Council is a group of young men of color, 12-24 years in age, creating a unified voice that advocates for racial equity, social justice and policy change. The Council addresses the practices and systems that hold back males of color. Through civic leadership training and direct lobbying opportunities, Breaking Barriers participants learn the importance of advocacy and develop their personal and collective leadership skills to be able to influence positive change, strengthening and improving life outcomes for boys and young men of color.
- How long have you been around? Breaking Barriers launched in January of 2018 as an initiative of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable. It was strategically positioned within Say Yes Buffalo as a part of the Boys and Men of Color Initiative to better support young men of color. The BMoC work is connected to the work former President Obama is leading around My Brother’s Keeper nationally.
- How has your organization/program been impacted by the pandemic? Like many organizations we’ve be forced to pivot providing virtual programming. We’d normally meet twice 2 a month for our regularly scheduled meetings at Bennett high school. The addition of a virtual component has added a new dimension to our approach and increased engagement of young men in the Greater Buffalo community. Since the end of March, we’ve been meeting virtually at least 3 times a week seeking to provide social and emotional support, thought provoking conversation, and introducing engaging speakers to share their personal stories of how they made it to where they are in life.
- What kind of partnership do you have with Victory Sports? Partnership is important in any line of work and we’ve been fortunate to have Victory Sports as partner. Inspired by the youth voice within the Breaking Barriers Youth Leadership Council, we partnered with Victory Sports & Project Play Western New York to help launch our Sports & Recreational Saturday’s back in August 2020!!! Through this partnership, Victory Sports donated sports equipment to our program that can will used all year round to keep our young men physically active and engaged during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The partnership provides an opportunity for our young to safely socially distance themselves while staying fit and enjoying some fun recreational activity.
- How important are partnerships in the times we are currently living in? The power of partnership is the “Secret Sauce” of Say Yes Buffalo. When people come together, issues get discussed, solutions are created, and relationships are formed. Over the summer, we partnered with the Journey Church and their “Groceries to Seniors” program. The partnership allowed our young men from Breaking Barriers to pack and deliver groceries and hot meals to volunteer drivers who would then deliver the items to seniors in our community at their home residence. This opportunity allowed our young men to continue to serve and give back to a population that is often forget about during times of crisis.
- What do you think other people should know about Victory Sports? I think people should know that Victory Sports is a real asset to Greater Buffalo. It’s not just about the donation of sporting equipment, or cleats, or baseball gloves or ball bins in community, it’s about strengthening community through sports and relationships. At a time when basketball courts, community centers, and sports leagues has been largely shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Victory Sports has been at the forefront continuing to ensure youth and families have a means of engaging in sports and recreational activities. Sports brings people together during crisis and has truly bee needed not only because of COVID, but also because of the social unrest that exists in our community and the nation.
- What would you like to say about your organization to the readers? More information about the Breaking Barriers Youth Leadership Council can be found at www.breakingbarriersbuffalo.org We are currently recruiting young men for the 4th cohort of young men. We accept youth between the ages of 12-24. Youth are encouraged to apply online or contact the Boys and Men of Color Initiative Program Manager via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 716-704-9861.
We love Daniel’s passion and dedication to the boys and men in his program. It is so difficult to watch programs and initiatives such as his cut back or restrict their community work and time spent together in person but the continued success and operation of the Boys and Men of Color Initiative is testament to Daniel and the members of the group. Victory Sports is hugely proud to be a very small part of their work and looks forward to continuing the partnership long into the future.
If your organization is in need of sports and recreation equipment and you offer free/low-cost access for youth in WNY, we would love to talk with you about how we can help. Please contact Edmond, our Development & Marketing Coordinator, to learn more.