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NIU junior Chenaire Barmore honored as Newman Civic Fellow

April 5, 2021

For as long as he can remember, Chenaire Barmore says, he has wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.

Since the age of 13, the NIU junior has volunteered and worked with local nonprofit organizations such as Goodwill, United Way and the YMCA in his hometown of Rockford.

Chenaire Barmore

“I see the daily lack of resources black youth are provided to become successful members of society,” he says, “and I aim to change that.”

Barmore, who’s majoring in Nonprofit and NGO Studies at NIU, is being prominently recognized for his efforts. Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, announced Barmore is among 212 students from 39 states who will make up the organization’s 2021-2022 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a year-long program for students from Campus Compact member institutions. The students selected for the fellowship are leaders on their campuses who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally and internationally.

Barmore says he has witnessed a big need for resources for black youth, particularly in the area of mental health services. He’s able to identify with young people and, as a college student, works to serve as a role model.

“I didn’t have a positive male role model available constantly to me,” he says. “I thank my grandmother and mom and church for making me into the man I am today.”

While attending Rock Valley College, Barmore was a member of the Black Student Union and other multicultural organizations involved in tutoring young children at local schools. More recently, he worked with and was inspired by 100 Strong, a Rockford-based group that seeks to mentor at-risk teens. It was a pivotal experience.

“My time with this organization helped me to find my life purpose: helping black youth find a light at the end of a dark tunnel,” Barmore wrote in his statement to Campus Compact. “Through this organization, I work with other local groups and schools to host events that help youth with financial literacy, college applications, mock interviews, and the mental health issues impacting black youth. I see now how I can help bring positive change to my community.”

When Barmore first arrived at NIU as a transfer student, he wasn’t sure which career path to follow. He initially majored in business, but his perspective changed after he took a class on nonprofit governance, taught by Professor Alicia Schatteman, director of the NIU Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies.

“I loved it,” Barmore says. “The Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies has changed my life in major ways.

“I’d been working with nonprofits for a long time, but I didn’t realize, hey, you can have a career in this and impact people’s lives daily,” he adds. “I’m fortunate to go to a school that embraces diversity and encourages students to use their voice for a positive light.”

Schatteman says she has been impressed with Barmore’s commitment to helping others.

“Chenaire is an impressive young man who is highly engaged in his community of Rockford,” she says. “I have worked with him over the past year on NIU’s 40TUDE Nonprofit, a student consulting team assisting area nonprofit organizations, and he has impressed me with his eagerness to embrace new challenges and work towards a common good.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship will help Barmore sharpen his leadership skills. The fellowship is named for the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, who was a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. In the spirit of Dr. Newman’s leadership, Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors nominate student leaders from their campuses to be named Newman Civic Fellows.

Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides fellows with a variety of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional and civic growth. Each year, fellows participate in numerous virtual-training and networking opportunities to help provide them with the skills and connections they need to create large-scale positive change.

The cornerstone of the fellowship is the Annual Convening of Fellows, which offers intensive skill-building and networking over the course of two days. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

“We are proud to recognize these extraordinary student leaders and thrilled to engage with them,” says Campus Compact President Andrew Seligsohn. “The experience of the last year has driven home to all of us that we need open-minded, innovative, public-spirited thinkers and doers. That is what Campus Compact is about, and the stories of our Newman Civic Fellows demonstrate it’s who they are.”

For his part, Barmore says he’s proud to represent NIU as a fellow. He’s also grateful to Schatteman, Julie Ann O’Connell and Stephanie Kummerer at the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies for their guidance and support.

“I was unsure if this is what I wanted to be doing,” Barmore says. “Now I can finally see a path.”