CEO statement on Charlottesville

Last week, our CEO Lynsey Wood Jeffries addressed our entire staff with a message of why our work is more important than ever in light of violence in Charlottesville and elsewhere. Read her speech below:

We often say that Higher Achievement is distinguished by 3 Rs… rigor, relationships, and results. These are precisely true. But for my opening comments today, I’d like to frame two additional Rs that seem right to me for right now: Renew and Recommit.

RENEW: As we gather together today, our country and communities need healing. They need renewal. Overt racism and hatred are igniting violence and fraying our social fabric. Racism threatens to pull us backward and imperil the future of our country. But let’s be clear – what happened in Charlottesville is not unprecedented. Our country has been grappling with racism for centuries, and it pervades every system of our society: from education to housing to prisons and more. To renew our sense of community, we must first reckon with the realities of racism, face them squarely in the eye. Recent events help have exposed this ugliness, and sunlight can help to cleanse and renew.

Condemnation for overt racism should be easy. But tackling implicit bias and structural inequities is harder. I believe that building deep, lasting relationships across difference is one key to building true equity. Our program, especially our mentoring model, builds these types of relationships. Together, we are building the kind of culture where people of all backgrounds feel safe, heard, and valued. With deep relationship building, Higher Achievement helps to heal. To renew.

Each of us sees these recent events through our own lens. We cannot truly see the world through another’s eyes. Our lens is soldered to our eyes. But I believe that we build empathy and build community by sharing stories and listening deeply to each other.