Black Aspirations Matter (BAM) is a group started by five Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) friends and allies who were moved to action by the Black Lives Matter movement in support of the aspirations of Black students. BAM recognizes the complex relationship between the Black and Asian communities, and is taking action to create a better future in solidarity with Black people. Recently, BAM established a scholarship fund to directly support Black college students in their academic and educational endeavors. They connected with Inneract Project (IP) as a partner, drawn to IP’s shared values of empowering Black youth and focus on design and technology education.
We spoke to the BAM team to learn more about their mission, the importance of supporting Black students, and the future they imagine for the scholarship.
This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
How would you describe BAM in 50 words or less?
BAM strives for a world where Black students are a priority, and opportunities for their educational advancement and success are structurally and systemically embedded in institutions’ culture and values. Our mission is to center and support the aspirations of Black students by providing financial support through creating a sustainable scholarship fund.
How did the IP x BAM partnership come to be? What makes IP an ideal partner for BAM?
To put it plainly, we believe deeply in Inneract Project and its work. Since we were first creating BAM, we had always intended to collaborate with a community organization that valued uplifting students who have been historically marginalized and excluded by educational institutions. Like IP, we at BAM believe in the talents, innovation, brilliance, and tenacity of Black students and seek to support their academic aspirations. IP currently does not have an established scholarship program, so partnering with IP allows us to collaborate with an organization that can amplify our reach and efforts. And in turn, we hope to help create a “blueprint” of sorts to encourage the creation of similar scholarships in the future. It’s also wonderful that IP can simultaneously help build the capacity of our scholarship recipients and connect them to resources about pursuing a career in design and technology.
Who should apply to BAM? Who is the ideal BAM student?
Any college student attending an accredited two- or four-year institution and identifies as Black and/or African American. There is no “ideal” BAM student because we wish to eliminate barriers to accessing this award. All Black students pursuing their education are ideal. What we care about is that we support Black students who have a need and are interested in pursuing a career in design and/or technology. Students attending a two-year institution are an important audience because research tells us that community college students are some of the most diverse and have pressing financial needs.
What does the scholarship cover?
We aim to provide at least 5 students with a $2,000 scholarship that will be directly paid to them so that they can use it towards their educational needs, however they deem most appropriate. As long as it’s used to support their educational journey, we have no interest in dictating how they should prioritize their expenses.
The Black Aspirations Matter scholarship is open to Black full-time students attending an accredited two-year or four-year college. Students can apply or find more information here. If you are interested in learning more about the scholarship or making a donation, please visit BAM’s Instagram page.