One week after the Presidential election, our three organizations are grappling with what the results mean for our young people and their families. The hard-working youth we serve have been disenfranchised and failed by systems of education, employment, public safety, healthcare, and more. Our organizations provide the support and opportunities young people need to achieve their dreams despite their current circumstances. In a country where 2 in 10 children live in poverty and more than 5.5 million youth are not in school or working, this election has proven that our efforts are more important than ever.
We now live in an era where increasingly it seems acceptable to tell our young people, their families, and communities that they are not deserving or worthy of opportunity because of who they are, what they look like, how they worship or where they come from. The recent election revealed a deeply divided country, reopened wounds of inequality and injustice while normalizing intolerance and hate. Just this week, a church in Silver Spring, Maryland was vandalized with a white supremacy message. Our children are scared. Young people are afraid of being deported or separated from their families, losing their healthcare and having even fewer educational and employment opportunities as a result of their race, religion, or other identity. Thousands of young people are sharing their fears in protests all over the country.
As women, mothers, and community and business leaders – we say NO to this injustice and a normalization of hate.
And we say yes to love —more love. Now, more than ever before, our children and youth need to be surrounded by caring adults and given unconditional love, increased support and greater, more meaningful opportunities. They need to know that they belong, they are loved and that their dreams matter.
During this time of fear and uncertainty, the stakes are higher and our collective work is even more urgent. The road ahead will be bumpy and unknown changes will come quickly. As leaders, we are committed to pushing ourselves harder, listening more closely and learning through this uncertainty while building new partnerships to unlock opportunities for our young people. And most importantly, we must be prepared to respond quickly and with resilience to our children, youth and families when they walk through our doors.
At LAYC, Higher Achievement, and Urban Alliance, we commit to:
– Ensuring that all of our young people can access supported pathways to high quality education, mentorship, training, employment and a purposeful future – no matter their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, or religion.
– Elevating the voices of the youth and communities we serve.
– Working harder than ever to serve more young people.
– Lifting up the principles and values that have always guided our work: respect, solidarity, voice, equal opportunity and freedom.
– Empowering youth to engage in the betterment of their communities and the world.
We can’t do this alone. We need your help. Please consider:
– Mentoring (visit higherachievement.org)
– Providing a young person with access to critical employment opportunities and training by sponsoring or hosting an intern (visit theurbanalliance.org)
– Volunteering, adopt a youth or family (visit layc-dc.org)
– Sharing your stories of urgency, uncertainty, and unending love on social media. We will be asking our young people to do the same.
– #nodreamsdenied #heretostay
The road ahead may be daunting and uncertain, but, fueled by love, we are committed to ensuring that our young people have the support and resources they need to achieve their dreams.
For some reason, love feels like a radical idea right now. Let’s be radical – and take action to keep our children safe, and thriving.