Black Excellence KC was born in 2019 to help connect Black professionals in Kansas City. Starting with networking events, Black Excellence KC (BXKC) has grown its membership to nearly 900 with an executive board that features 30 of the busiest Black professionals in the city.
Craig Moore, one of the founders of Black Excellence KC, says that Black professionals are often siloed or isolated from other Black professionals. The initial goal of BXKC was simply to connect individuals with a greater goal of increasing the career trajectories of Black Professionals.
“We started off just wanting to convene our Black Professional group with meetups, but we surveyed and found out that our members want more than just networking events,”Proximity and BXKC Co-founder Craig Moore.
“We started off just wanting to convene our Black professional group with meetups,” says Moore. “But we surveyed and found out that our members want more than just networking events. So over the past year and a half, we’ve been developing that.”
This month Black Excellence KC has launched a beta-membership platform called “Proximity” that functions as a social media site for Black professionals. Members can create profiles and connect with others, access job boards, volunteer opportunities, and events, as well as get connected to opportunities to enhance their professional growth.
Proximity hosts videos of past Black Excellence events and panel discussions called “rebuilding honestly” that dive into wealth management and professional development. The platform also has an HR help desk tab where members can chat and get advice on navigating company culture from a Black human resources professional.
“It’s LinkedIn for Black people,” says Moore.
The platform is still in the early phases, but currently, there are assessments designed to guide members to training and resources they need to achieve their goals. There are also assessments and resources for entrepreneurs looking to grow, company leadership training, and skill building for those just starting out.
“We are a support hub for individuals, organizations, companies, or corporations that want to provide better opportunities for the Black community,”Black Excellence KC & Proximity co-founder Craig Moore.
Proximity aims to help connect companies and Black professionals. Organizations that would like to hire from BXKC’s membership pool can take an assessment to identify their corporate and cultural competencies. Their score on the assessment will be displayed on the company’s page for members to see before applying. The displayed scores will reflect an organization’s work culture and their commitment to diversity & inclusion.
“After George Flyod, a lot of companies made statements,” says Moore. “A lot of those promises have not been kept, but if there are corporations out here trying to drive change, we want to open the door for them.”
Moore says that, in the past, either there haven’t been opportunities for Black professionals at certain companies or that the Black community didn’t engage with or know about the opportunities. Proximity hopes to mitigate that disconnect.
Moore says the platform includes metrics that measure how companies and individuals are meeting their stated goals. If an organization or an individual is lacking in a particular area, Proximity assessments can guide both to the resources needed.
There are three tiers of Proximity membership: the first tier is free and provides members access to all Black Excellence events, the job board, and the ability to build a profile. The second tier, $45 per month or $500 per year, provides access to the HR help desk, volunteer opportunities, an entrepreneur ecosystem support space, and exclusive events for paid members.
The highest tier, which costs $2000 and will only accept 25 people a quarter, is the “cohort tier,” where members will meet with Black Excellence leaders to identify individual aspirations and get matched with a coach in one of three tracks: Professional, Founder, or Wealth mentorship. Members in this tier come away with a three-year plan and work with a coach monthly.
In the future, BXKC hopes to expand the Proximity platform into a regional network and a mobile app and potentially expand to serve Black professionals nationally. There are currently 400 members signed up for the beta launch found at proximity.mn.co, and more features will be added based on feedback in the upcoming months. Those who sign up in the early stages will also be eligible for a year-long free trial of premium membership.