In a summer of protest and pandemic, the longstanding injustices faced by Black and Brown Americans have become clearer to more people than ever.
This is a moment where more fundamental change is possible. From COVID-19, to violence at the hands of law enforcement, to a recent wave of gun violence in New York City, our teams continue to work side-by-side with the people most affected by these issues. Read our updates below to learn how we build safer, stronger communities for all.
Restorative justice is racial justice
"Who tells the story of the children, descendants of the forgotten, enslaved hands engraved in sugar cane, tobacco, and cotton?” Our recent New Thinking podcast episode on the restorative justice program we operated in five Brooklyn high schools opens with a remarkable poem written by the team’s lead facilitator, Erica Wright. You can now hear her reading of that poem set to images Erica took, including of the Ferguson protests in 2014. The episode focuses on the work of restorative justice in underserved, predominantly Black schools where accountability needs to start with the system, not the students.
As gun violence increases, S.O.S. responds
With a summer surge of gun violence in New York City, outreach staff from our violence interruption program, Save Our Streets, are working in their communities to defuse conflicts before they escalate and interrupt the cycle of retaliation if a shooting does take place. At a recent press conference, our director of anti-violence programs, Ifé Charles, outlined this approach. An independent analysis of the effectiveness of Save Our Streets has been cited in articles by TIME, Vox, The Appeal, and others, as jurisdictions across the country look at alternatives to police.
The “why” behind gun violence
Our year-long study of young New Yorkers in areas with high rates of gun violence found their primary motivations for carrying a gun include fear of police and widespread experiences of violence. The findings suggest public safety efforts centered on law enforcement are failing to make these young people feel safer. Read the full report. The findings, discussed this week on The New York Times’ ‘The Daily,’ suggest public safety efforts centered on law enforcement are failing to make these young people feel safer.
Building safety in families
Family is where safety and security begin. The TODAY show recently profiled UPNEXT, our job readiness and fatherhood program, to meet participants who have reconnected with their children. “I don’t want to miss a day out of my kids’ lives. I want to be their superhero,” explained one of those participants to TODAY’s Craig Melvin.
Racial justice, in a song
ICYMI: One of our youth participants, Neveah, recorded and mixed a ‘History Song’ for a school project about racial justice and civil rights in the U.S. This is just one way our programs engage with young people and teach them concrete skills. We think Neveah deserves an A+!
Header photo credit: Tom Ella