Written by Perrine DeShield on behalf of Belk
Belk is proud to partner with the Young Black Leadership Alliance (YBLA) as part of its commitment to make a positive impact against systemic racism. YBLA works to identify, educate and develop young, Black leaders to influence their communities and beyond.
What first began as “Young Black Men Leadership Alliance” in 2006 continued to evolve and is now a pillar within the Charlotte community. YBLA CEO and Co-Founder, John Martin, believes that, “Mentorship is essential when working with young leaders because it allows them to have a support system that can act as a sounding board - but can also give advice and strategies on navigating difficult decisions. Martin also says that because of negative stereotypes placed on young Black men and women, positive role models and mentors are needed to help shape their lives and model success for their future.
We are living in a very crucial time where the Black experience is being both shared and acknowledged. John believes that this is the moment where the world sees the racial injustices and inequalities the Black community has been living with for generations. “This is our time to stand up and share our stories that educate others so we can start moving towards system level changes that lead to a better tomorrow for all,” Martin said.
Another hot-button topic? Diversity and Inclusion! It seems like companies from every industry are implementing highly needed strategies surrounding diversity and inclusion—especially within their human resources departments. YBLA is fostering remarkable Black talent and the organization hopes to convert their corporate partnerships into hiring opportunities.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the traditional high school experience - the primary demographic of many YBLA members. The organization is looking to help combat the additional stresses young members are facing by providing additional resources, such as access to mental health experts and safe, virtual spaces for students and parents to share how they’re feeling.
Last month YBLA launched Community Conversations for Racial Equality, a six-month program created to help eliminate racial disparities and end racial injustice in our local community. Broken into a three-phased initiative, the first phase leads meaningful discussions with Black panelists to educate and foster understanding to the many layers of the Black experience. The second phase begins August 25 and is focused on collaboration and creating solutions. The final phase will culminate in December, showing the results of the work being done in Charlotte.
Many organizations have been hit hard during this pandemic and it’s important we continue to support our community well beyond Black Philanthropy Month. Community members can follow YBLA on social media (@YBLAleadership), share their amazing work, visit their website and join their mailing list, and volunteer.
It’s so vital that we all find ways to invest in the youth and our future leaders. Thanks to YBLA, the kids are alright!
August is Black Philanthropy Month and we are celebrating locally with #BPM2020CLT- a collaborative initiative to observe BPM and celebrate Black giving in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This celebration and conversation is led by NGAAP Chalotte in partnership with SHARE Charlotte, YMCA of Greater Charlotte, My Brother’s Keeper Charlotte, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Charlotte.
For more information about how this partnership came to be and to learn about 80+ local, Black led organizations to support this month and beyond, go here.