To our Higher Achievement extended family –

This moment demands action. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many more highlight the trauma and long history of institutionalized racism in our country. Our hearts ache for the families of the victims and for all Black people who have endured this trauma for generations. Enough is enough.

Black Lives Matter.

The work of racial justice is Higher Achievement’s work. Working with scholars and their families to close achievement and opportunity gaps that create barriers for students of color is our work. Confronting the insidious racism of low expectations is our work.

But, if our scholars grow up into the world as it is now, our work will be undone. This is a world where:

  • they are 2.5x more likely to be killed by police than their white peers1
  • they are more than 5x more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers2
  • they earn 27.5% less than their white peers3

This is appalling. This is unacceptable. And yet it is true – and in this country we HAVE accepted it for far too long.

We will not be silent. We will act.

We commit to an immediate examination of our internal policies and practices – from our staff and board development, to our volunteer training and fundraising strategy, to our curriculum and scholar and family engagement strategies – to develop a long-term racial justice and equity plan. We recognize our blind spots with many white staff leaders and board members at Higher Achievement, and thus, it is even more important that we deeply engage our broader community. Our staff, our scholars and families, our volunteers, our donors and board will all have an important voice in this plan. We begin this journey with the unanimous and financial support from our board of directors.

As an organization that benefits from senior leaders, board members, and donors who represent our country’s most privileged communities, we commit to be humble and vulnerable in this process, and to use our institutional power to act as agents of change as we serve marginalized communities.

We will listen to and love our scholars. Being cautious not to traumatize, we will try to help them process what is happening in our country, and encourage them to find and share their voices. As always, we will continue to advance scholars’ academic, social, and emotional learning – to build long-term racial equity and justice.

These steps alone are insufficient. But they are steps forward. We are committed to being part of the solution and creating lasting change.

In solidarity,

Staff leadership
Garima Bhatt Handley, Christa Coleman, Janice Cori, Katey Comerford, Todd Derby, Elyse Harris, Christie Lerro, James Morgan, Allison Schafer, Thalia Theodore Washington, Jessica Walbridge Richardson, Carla Watson, Lynsey Wood Jeffries

Full board of directors
Erica Berry Wilson, John Boochever, Mitch Brooks, Kim Curry, Rick England, Jay Epstien, Brian Flegel, Julie Herwig, Lamont Gordon, Christine Lattanzio, Chris Leech, Mary Lloyd Parks, Dom Meier, Sherry Rhodes, Deborah Santiago, Ade Sawyer, Mitchell Schear, Mike Tascher

[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2020/05/mapping-police-killings-black-americans-200531105741757.html
[2] https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/
[3] https://www.epi.org/blog/stark-black-white-divide-in-wages-is-widening-further/