My name is Harry Johnson, II, an alumnus of the first Coro Pittsburgh NEXT Leaders cohort in 2010, in which our focus worked to create new initiatives that built collaboration and sustainable partnerships between mentors and emerging leaders for the succession of organizations in the Hill District and Uptown.  Through my experience with Coro, I gained a different perspective on how to solve social, community, and economic based issues in our City, and how to become a transformational leader that turns ideas into action.

I have recently joined a great organization called BMe Community as the Community Manager for Pittsburgh.  We are a national network of inspired black men and thousands of other community-builders of all races and genders that connect to share, inspire, and empower communities across America.  Each year, BMe identifies 30 to 50 inspired Black men who are deeply committed to the well-being of others.  We fund them, tell their stories, and connect them to others who care about the same causes and opportunities, both locally and nationally.

We have been operating in several cities the country, but recently launched in Pittsburgh with the support and partnership of The Heinz Endowments.  We are looking forward to giving ten Black men from Pittsburgh a $10,000 grant each and to welcome them into our community as BMe Leaders.  In doing so, we feel that we are changing the narrative about Black men, and creating a new one.

Black men have a chance to earn a total of $400,000 for the things they do to help others in Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Forty $10,000 cash prizes will be awarded by BMe Community – a national network committed to building more caring and prosperous communities inspired by black men – as part of their annual BMe Leadership Awards.

The awards seek to shine a spotlight on oft-unsung Black men who take action to help others and strengthen communities daily. Recipients of the BMe Leadership Award are called BMe Leaders.  The past 100 BMe Leaders have served as catalysts for growth and collaboration in multiple cities.  Together they directly help more than 200,000 people a year.

We are endeavoring to get the word out to others quickly, as our new BMe Leaders must be nominated by Friday, March 27th.

“If you’re trying to build a more prosperous Pittsburgh, you have to build upon the great assets of Pittsburgh,” says Trabian Shorters, founding CEO of BMe Community. “Inspiring black men like these are all over Pittsburgh. So we have to tell their stories otherwise people might get the mistaken impression that such black men don’t exist.”

Here are some ways that you can support our work:

  • Nominate an inspiring Black man you know in Pittsburgh. The nomination only takes a few minutes to complete.
  • Apply for the 2015 BMe Leader Awards. The application only takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete.
  • Contact me directly at harry@bmecommunity.org with any questions, suggested partnerships, or if you are interested in interning for BMe Community in Pittsburgh.
  • Attend the happy hour I will be hosting for BMe Community on Friday, March 20th at SAVOY Restaurant from 5pm – 8pm. Please stop by to learn more about our work and other opportunities we are bringing to Pittsburgh.
  • Visit our website and learn more about our best-selling bookREACH: 40 Black Men speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding, with former N.A.A.C.P. President Ben Jealous.


The opportunity to nurture and support leaders in this way is a unique one. We are looking for those that display authenticity, commitment to strengthening communities, leadership, and a compelling story. Please consider your networks, nominate, and spread the word.


Thank you,



HJohnsonHeadShotEditor’s Note: This piece was written by one of Coro’s alumni and community partners, Harry Johnson from BMe Community.  Any opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily the views held by the Coro Center for Civic Leadership (“Coro Pittsburgh”). However, we welcome our partners to share stories with – and through – us.  If you are interested in making a blog post, please contact Outreach Manager Sarah Miller at smiller@coropittsburgh.org