Black lives matter, now and always

Dear YouthBuild Philly Supporters:

ALL Black Lives Matter in our school, in our community and in our world. This truth is foundational to our shared YouthBuild community and to our shared humanity. 

This has been a very intense and traumatic time for YouthBuild Philly, especially as our community cannot physically connect to embrace and affirm each other as we mourn the loss of life, celebrate the work of advocates, and fight together against injustice. Nonetheless, we remain committed to our core values of Respect, Excellence and Perseverance. Our core values will ground our work as a school and our work against racism. Racist systems were built by people. New equitable systems must be rebuilt by people in communities like ours and by leaders like the young people graduating from YouthBuild.

YouthBuild Philly students, alumni, staff, Board of Trustees and partners represent a range of racial and social identities. For 28 years in Philly and for 42 years globally, the YouthBuild movement has been committed to racial equity from our earliest roots in the Civil Rights Movement; however, we have much more work to do to become much more actively anti-racist. 

While our social identity work considers a range of intersecting identities (gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, etc.), we have prioritized conversations about race and racism. Approximately 90 percent of the 2020 graduating class of YouthBuild Philly identifies as Black, with 99 percent of our overall enrollment identifying as persons of color. Our work as educators and as learners is to more directly fight against the racism that traumatizes our students and perpetuates white supremacy. Anti-racism work must be central in our classrooms, on our worksites, in our service activities and with all of our partners.

Over the last three years, our internal social identities working group (11 staff members representing all YouthBuild departments) has helped lead our work on race and identity focused on three primary goals:

  • Developing shared language and common frameworks for continuing conversations about how our social identities and the systems that shape our society impact our work.
  • Preparing staff to have conversations with students and alumni about how social identities impact their journey at YouthBuild and especially with partners.
  • Staying grounded in the original vision of YouthBuild, which focuses on social justice.

We will continue to improve our racial literacy in ways that improve our relationships with students, our instructional practices, our curriculum, our restorative practices, our partnerships with employers and postsecondary institutions and our internal human resource practices. Toward that end, candidates for positions at YouthBuild Philly will participate in specific interviews focused on our social identities priorities. Onboarding and performance review processes will more explicitly and consistently focus on our social identities priorities, in addition to an on-going assessment of our workplace practices to ensure alignment with these priorities.

Our work toward justice, equity and anti-racism has not been perfect and is certainly not anywhere near complete. We’ve benefited greatly from close collaboration with The Lion’s Story, an organization committed to expanding literacy around social identities and dismantling systemic racial oppression. This work is not only about becoming better educators, but also about becoming better human beings.

As we all mourn together the tragedy of thousands of Black people murdered in and by a racist system, YouthBuild Philly strongly encourages our supporters to educate themselves and take action against racism in America, because racism is EVERYONE’S problem

Thank you for joining us in the fight against racism.

In Solidarity,

YouthBuild Philadelphia Senior Leadership Team
Scott Emerick, Executive Director
Adesanya Karade, Chief Finance & Operations Officer
Meredith Molloy, Chief Development Officer
Dannyelle Austin, Senior Program Director
Tiffany Doyle, Senior Human Resources Director

YouthBuild Philadelphia Executive Committee, Board of Trustees
Melanie McCottry, Chair, Board of Trustees
Marty Brigham, Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees
Khalilah Lawson, Chair, Governance Committee, Board of Trustees
Jim Mergiotti, Chair, Finance Committee, Board of Trustees
David Thomas, Chair, Program Committee, Board of Trustees
Nicole Connell, Secretary, Board of Trustees
Kiley Smith Kelly, Chair, Fundraising Committee, Board of Trustees

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