Ford Fund, City of Tacoma and Washington State History Museum kick-off Men of Courage Barbershop Challenge

The Men of Courage Barbershop Challenge invites community-focused barbershops to submit innovative community program proposals for nominations as a Men of Courage barbershop

Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, is joining forces with the City of Tacoma and the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) to offer motivated barbershops in Tacoma an opportunity to compete for a $10,000 grant to support programs they create to educate and empower African American men in their community. Additionally, the runner up in the challenge is eligible to select a local non-profit to receive a $5,000 grant.

“The Men of Courage program is designed to uplift and celebrate the many contributions of African American men to our world,” said Pamela Alexander, director of Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “We are excited to bring this program and the associated barbershop challenge to Tacoma.”

The Men of Courage Barbershop Challenge is an expansion of the Men of Courage (MOC) grassroots program that launched in 2015. Its intent is to build communities by advancing the narrative of black men through storytelling. The MOC initiative has included several activations that include community outreach, education programs and toolkits for conversation starters.

Over the past three years, curated forums have been held in Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles with national stakeholders such as activist Shaka Senghor, former Detroit mayor and NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing, and NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis participating. With nearly 200 community leaders serving as mentors and engaging in hours of storytelling, vision boarding and solution mapping with young men in the community, the work has resulted in more than 2,000 toolkits downloaded in 34 cities around the country. Additionally, the theme of the 2016 Ford Freedom Award, which celebrated and recognized achievements of lasting and positive impact for African Americans, highlights the pivotal work of the Men of Courage program.

“In helping African American men tap into powerful community conversations through this new program, we are making a statement,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “We are saying that their ideas matter and can, in fact, profoundly shape the evolution of African American male identity in this country.”

Tacoma Barber WEB

The Tacoma MOC Barbershop Challenge seeks state-certified barbershop owners ages 18 and up to submit innovative applications that state why their barbershop should be distinguished as a Ford Fund Men of Courage shop and what that would mean for their community. Two finalists will be selected to compete by developing community engagement programming for adults and youth that focus on education, entrepreneurship and empowerment. Ford will support their efforts leveraging partnerships such as the Washington State History Museum and Microsoft to facilitate fun and engaging activities such as coding workshops, Xbox Game Nights and amplifying a job search with LinkedIn.

“We are proud to partner with the Ford Motor Company Fund in bringing their innovative Barber Shop Challenge to the Tacoma area. We look forward to experiencing the impact of the activities that will come out of the challenge,” said Jennifer Kilmer, director of the Washington State Historical Society. “Men of Courage is the perfect companion program to the Men of Change exhibition. The Washington State History Museum is honored to host that exhibition this winter and we encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to see it here.”

Two barbershops will be selected as finalists and compete for a grant of $10,000 to activate community engagement programs at their shops

Challenge runner-up to receive $5000 for their favorite nonprofit organization


To apply, barbershop owners should visit and submit their application online. Applications are being accepted until November 18, 2019.

The Men of Courage program serves as a complimentary grassroots activation to the Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth. exhibition which will be on view at Washington State History Museum in Tacoma from December 21, 2019 through March 15, 2020. Created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Men of Change is made possible through the support of Ford Motor Company Fund and highlights revolutionary men—including Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, W.E.B. Du Bois and Kendrick Lamar— whose journeys have altered the history and culture of the country. For more information visit

– Ford Motor Company Fund/Washington State History Museum