Staff Report

MIAMI – BMe Community and The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust have partnered to celebrate and recognize black men in Miami who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to carrying on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Miami BMe Leaders Marlon Hill, Brandon Okpalobi, Derick Pearson and Jonathan Spikes will each receive $100,000 to support their transformative efforts in building more caring and prosperous communities.

“BMe has been an amazing resource and thought partner in helping to identify and build networks for change,” said Dr. Dorian Burton, Assistant Executive Director of the Trust. “The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust elected to invest in these BMe Leaders because of their unwavering determination and passion for what is possible.”

BMe Community is a nonprofit that was created and spun-off by the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation in 2013. It has since helped over two million people in six cities to improve their health, wealth, hope and communities. They are leading a movement inspired by black men to build a more caring and prosperous America by uniting together.

“BMe builds communities of hope and opportunity based on a positive narrative about black men and all caring people,” said Trabian Shorters, CEO of BMe Community. “We are excited when organizations like the Kenan Charitable Trust define people by the changes they’re making today for the good of humanity much like the work of Dr. King.”

BMe Community will also invest $100,000 into 10 additional black men from South Florida in April.

“Our BMe Leaders have catalyzed a movement that boldly cures hopelessness, openly defies helplessness and creatively builds powerful networks of brothers and sisters of all races and genders,” said Miami Community Manager Benjamin Evans III. “Our awardees are social entrepreneurs who build assets and opportunities in places where other innovators fail to do so.”

The BME Leaders who have been awarded grants from The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust are: Marlon Hill, who is a partner with Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP. Hill is building a real live courtroom at Brownsville Junior High School in partnership with the Miami- Dade School District. Through it, students will be mentored by professionals in the law field and will have exposure to the training, resources and tools that will equip them to pursue legal careers as judges, lawyers, clerks, etc.

Brandon Okpalobi, who founded DIBIA Dream, Inc. The organization’s purpose is to teach students a unique way of making every life experience transform into a story that can be used as a learning tool. Okpalobi develops STEM programs through his DREAM Academy (Development through Recreational Education for Athletic Minds) that impacts hundreds of aspiring youth.

Derick Pearson, who co-founded Black- Tech Week with his wife Felecia Hatcher, increases the number of startup founders, technology executives and engineers of color. Both are venture-backed entrepreneurs. Black Tech Weekend is set to kick off

February 23-25 in Miami. Learn more at

Jonathan Spikes, who is President and Founder of Affirming Youth, overcame the violent death of one brother and the shooting of another, plus his own cancer diagnosis to show young people a way out of similar traumas. His “Let’s Talk It Out” conflict resolution curriculum has been adopted by Miami- Dade Public Schools, one of the largest and most diverse school districts in the U.S.

Learn more at

“We are proud to be affiliated with these four amazing leaders and our continued and growing partnership with the BMe network,” said Burton.

For more information, visit