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In Wake of Multiple Crises, Stone Grantees Take Action

Posted on August 26, 2020 @ 3:31 PM

The beginning of summer 2020 was marked by national and international protests against the people and systems responsible for the centuries of violence and injustices against Black and other people of color. The recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Oluwatoyin Salau, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others killed by police have prompted a reflection on individual and systematic racism and oppression. The W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation is renewing its commitment to uplifting the work and voices of community members, and implementing sustainable, equitable systems change. To do this, we have decided to spotlight and reflect upon the many statements issued by our grantees following the murder of George Floyd.

Below are the statements of many of our grantees. We have lifted up those that we felt were particularly powerful, highlighting a few excerpts and summarizing a few key reflections.

The National Equity Project’s message urges people to be engaged, informed, and present in the fight for freedom:

“As citizens of this promising yet conflicted nation, it is time for us to go for broke! We each must make a choice: take conscious action to learn about and dismantle injustice and the winding tentacles of white supremacy in our lives, families, workplaces and communities; or stay asleep, seek comfort, look away and in doing so – perpetuate racism and the racist systems that produce the inequity and injustices we face” (NEP).

The Citizen School uses its statement to remind us that the work of communities is only as effective as the system it exists in:

But how can we expect our students to develop into leaders if they are trapped in systems marred by racism? If some of their leaders can’t model empathy? If their communities voices are constantly muted? The distressing answer is that we can’t — unless we are willing to change the status quo” (Citizen Schools).

The Learning Policy Institute, NYC Leadership Academy, and the Youth Leadership Institute, argue our education and legal systems are flawed, and we’re not designed to support youth of color. Communities need support and solidarity not only when acts of violence occur, but in every day moments of healing, joy, and self-expression. The National Equity Project best captures this sentiment in their message when they emphasize, “This moment does not represent a fight for the humanity of Black people. Black people have long demonstrated our humanity in the face of unrelenting injustice and oppression. America, we are fighting to reclaim our collective humanity! (NEP).

The organizations listed below issued statements embracing the idea that an effective response must go beyond a message of solidarity and take its strength from both accountability and action.

Health Connect One While their letter is short, it includes existing tools and resources, including mental health resources for the Black community, where you can find free meals, anti-racism guides for kids and adults, as well as links to support George Floyd’s family, small businesses, and bail funds.

NYC Leadership Academy This statement provides a list of the different steps education leaders and teams can take to engage in restorative rather than punitive school practices. The statement includes a personal anecdote and statistics on how Black and Brown students are negatively affected by punitive practices in schools.

Learning Policy Institute Their article provides insightful research and perspective on education inequity. It prompts the reader to engage with education inequity on multiple levels: in the classroom and as well as the local, state, and national level.

Youth Leadership Institute They get underneath the heated rhetoric and unpack the “defund the police” movement and connect this movement with the values and work of their institution.

RYSE This letter centers the well-being of youth and provides readers with tips on how to socially and emotionally support Black and Brown youth. They also link readers to anti-racism resources and funds they can support.

Mikva Challenge This message connects readers with youth voice directly by including video messages from students. They also include reflections from their leadership which further promotes reflection, accountability, and centers their purpose not only as individual leaders but as an organization.

Citizen Schools This message puts forward their institutional role in addressing education inequity and centers the healing and learning of their students as well as staff. They list the tangible ways their support students through restorative justice circles and supporting their staff by offering time away for healing and reflection.

You can find more responses from our partner organizations listed below under their specific field areas: