Barbershops in Tacoma are encouraged to shoot for the moon with ideas to help the city’s African American community as part of a national program by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Co., that will award $10,000 to the shop with the best ideas and public engagement over three months.
Barbershops — long places for customers to engage with their community — have until Nov. 18 to apply for the Men of Courage Barbershop Challenge. Applicants must commit to at least two Men of Courage programs per month over three months. The two finalist barbershops would partner with the Washington State History Museum to co-host a Men of Courage-related program.
The Washington State History Museum is hosting a national exhibit, Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., from Dec. 21, 2019, through March 15, 2020. Created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Men of Change exhibition is sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund and highlights revolutionary men — including Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, W.E.B. Du Bois and Kendrick Lamar — whose journeys have altered the history and culture of the country, according to a news release on the challenge.
“In helping African American men tap into powerful community conversations through this new program, we are making a statement,” Mayor Victoria Woodards said in the release. “We are saying that their ideas matter and can, in fact, profoundly shape the evolution of African American male identity in this country.”
From the applications, two barbershops will be selected to compete in the challenge by developing community engagement programming for adults and youth that focuses on education, entrepreneurship, and empowerment. According to challenge rules, the winner will be chosen based on commitment to and execution of programming related to Men of Courage, changing the narrative around African American men, number of community members participating, and overall quality of the barbershop’s programming.
The winner can use the $10,000 first prize to enhance their barbershop and support programs to educate and empower African American men in their community. Additionally, the runner up in the challenge is eligible to select a local nonprofit to receive a $5,000 grant.
“It’s like a moonshot: Come up with your moonshot of the best six things that you want to do in your barbershop that you can do,” Justin Kimpson, national program manager for Ford Men of Courage, said in an interview.
The Men of Courage Barbershop Challenge is an expansion of the Men of Courage grassroots program that launched in 2015. Its intent is to build communities by advancing the narrative of black men through storytelling. The initiative has included community outreach, education programs, and toolkits for conversation-starters.
The Tacoma Barbershop Challenge is the second in the U.S., after Cincinnati, which launched its challenge over the summer. The challenge program also includes a leadership series for African American men in the community to engage in self-empowerment, understanding their personal brand, building self-worth, examining how to advance ideas to business plans, and understanding the power of leadership, Kimpson said.