Blog Entry Narrative Change

CBMA August SBV Spotlight: Jermaine Wright

For the month of August, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement's Skills-Based Volunteer (SBV) Program Spotlight series features Jermaine Wright, Director of the City University of New York Black Male Initiative (CUNY BMI). The CUNY BMI mission is to increase, encourage and support the inclusion and success of student groups that are severely underrepresented in higher education, particularly African, African American/Black Caribbean and Latino/Hispanic males. CUNY BMI works to accomplish its mission by creating model projects throughout the University that provide additional layers of academic and social support for students who are members of these underrepresented populations.

CUNY BMI University Director, Jermaine Wright, is a homegrown talent. He is an educational product of the State and City University systems of New York, earning a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from SUNY Binghamton, and a M.P.A in Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY. There is also the small matter of Jermaine having spent six years as Associate Director of CUNY BMI before moving into the role of Director.  So, for Jermaine, this work is very close to his heart. 

When Jermaine learned of the CBMA skills-based volunteer program with JPMorgan Chase, he knew that it could be an instant value-add to work that he has been undertaking for almost a decade. But how would volunteers from JPMorgan Chase help CUNY BMI increase enrollment, matriculation and, ultimately, graduation rates of the underserved populations within CUNY? Jermaine thought strategically about the capacity needs of his office, and he arrived at some objectives that were

CBMA: What motivated you to participate in the skills-based volunteer program?

JW: The opportunity to partner with experts to assist CUNY BMI with enhancing its capacity is what motivated me to participate. CUNY BMI has a small central staff, therefore often times we are not only inundated with the day to day programmatic issues, but we also have to address development/fundraising, compiling and analyzing data, and marketing. This opportunity gave us a chance to out-source.

CBMA: What has been your experience thus far with skills-based volunteering, and do you foresee any long-term benefits for CUNY BMI?

JW: The experience thus far has been a positive one. Two of three projects that were submitted have been matched and completed.  One of the projects was the development of an individual donor letter.  In mid-March, I was matched with a Vice President and Senior Marketing Manager at JPMorgan Chase after a very insightful phone conversation. During our initial conversation, I discussed CUNY BMI, my expectations as it relates to the individual donor letter and the timeline for completion of the letter. The JPMorgan Chase volunteer drafted and redrafted and redrafted several iterations of the letter until it was exactly what I wanted. She was patient, flexible, and thorough; and at the conclusion of it all I had a great letter within my timeframe.  I also worked with another JPMorgan Chase volunteer to develop an advisory recruitment letter.  The final products for these two matches will ensure that CUNY BMI will grow and have a strong network.

Jermaine is now a tried and true believer in the power of skills-based volunteering, and he intends to keep utilizing this valuable resource for as long and as often as possible.

Please note that if you are a CBMA member in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, there still an opportunity to participate in the CBMA skills-based volunteer program. Please contact Claude Aska at caska@blackmaleachievement.org for information on how to register for the program.

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