About Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation
Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation Our Heritage & Origins Created in 1977, the Black Professionals Association (BPA) was an organization dedicated to professional growth and development. To celebrate the accomplishments of successful Black Professionals, BPA held the first Black Professional of the Year in 1981. The goal of that first gala was to honor the accomplishments of Bertram Gardner, a banker, who served as a mentor for many, as well as for his contributions made to our community. The celebration was greatly received and thus the tradition of the annual Black Professional of the Year was established. The Creation of the Foundation The tradition of raising awareness and providing scholarships and grants remains the primary thrust of the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF). BPACF, an outgrowth of BPA, was established in October 1985 after the gala revenues reached $25,000. It was then that the BPA leadership determined the need to create a separate, tax-exempt organization. The focus was to raise scholarship funds to assure that high school graduates had an opportunity to advance to higher education. BPACF scholarship recipients attend Ohio colleges and universities. Eligible students must be African American, demonstrate financial need, be preferably from the Cleveland and surrounding areas, and maintain at least a 2.6 grade point average. While not a requirement, we encourage our scholarships recipients to return to Cleveland. Strategic Direction & Endowment To ensure that BPACF would remain relevant, BPACF underwent a strategic plan in 1993. A major outcome of that plan was the creation of an Endowment housed at The Cleveland Foundation. This fund serves as a financial anchor to ensure that BPACF is positioned for perpetuity to achieve our goals of educational scholarships, programs, and leadership development. Scholarships and Program Grants The commitment to higher education is fundamental to our mission; however, during the late 90’s BPACF leadership identified the need to invest in younger students. An example of this type of program occurred during the 1998-1999 school year when BPACF partnered with the Ameritech Foundation and the Cleveland Municipal School District to sponsor a project called “It’s Cool To Read in School” at the Alfred A. Benesch Elementary School. Recognizing the importance of a solid education with good reading skills to one’s career and life success, the project focused on elementary school children. Success was evidenced by a 14% improvement in their reading scores. Organizational Capacity In 2007, BPACF hired its first part-time Executive Director to lead the fund development efforts while enhancing programming focused on improving the lives of African Americans in the Greater Cleveland community. One of the more significant programs under this initiative included the Legacy Leadership Luncheon Series featuring past Black Professionals as the keynote speakers. The Verbatim magazine was also launched as a vehicle to tell the BPACF story to the community. With the success of the Leadership Luncheon series, BPACF decided to hire a full time Executive Director. In 2008, BPACF fulfilled this mission and also secured office space. With this bold action, BPACF repositioned itself to expand programming & fundraising efforts, establish community partnerships, and engage in collaborations. Where We are Today Today, we remain committed to our mission of education and leadership development and continuing the legacy of honoring the achievements of a Black Professional of the Year as a strategy to encourage young people to strive for excellence. We believe that with the hiring of our second full time Executive Director in January 2012 and relocation to the Urban League, that we are positioned to continue 32 years of meeting mission by investing in tomorrow’s leaders.
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