…ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Regardless of class, age, sexual orientation, or legal status. At EducationWorks that is what we know, recognize publicly and unabashedly, and informs how we operate. The individuals and communities we serve are overwhelmingly Black, so too are our employees. Experiencing the ills of institutionalized racism and injustice and the constant threat of harm to our Black bodies is commonplace. Our familiarity with death, such as the murder of George Floyd and other innocent Black people, by those sworn to protect and serve is unnatural. Contending with those aggressions while surviving the ravages of COVID-19, which is disproportionately impacting Black communities, traumatic. It is an honor to serve this community – our community – regardless of circumstance.
EducationWorks stands in solidarity with anyone protesting systematic injustice, police violence, white supremacy and the destruction of Black lives and communities. At EducationWorks we are active members of our communities and have been participating in protests and other grass roots efforts to heal our neighborhoods. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “there comes a time where silence is betrayal,” and we refuse to be silent, and we’re challenging you to do the same. How do you answer the call to these communities – not just during a time of crisis, but beyond this moment?
At EducationWorks, we believe that there are three pillars of basic human rights: (1) The essentials (food, clothing and shelter); (2) Wellness (mindfulness and physical well-being); (3) Educational attainment. These beliefs are evidenced in our programming.
The Call: Don’t Waste a Crisis
I encourage nonprofit leaders to find their voice and control the narrative as it relates to programming in their area of focus. Leaders should prioritize the communities they serve and do so with a level of cultural competency, respect, and reverence versus appealing to funders and what they deem as important (difficult I know). Be lions on behalf of our communities, setting aside the fear of losing your position or the adoration of those in power. Be dynamic. Be brave.
In the same way, funders and those in philanthropy should resist the incredibly paternalistic approach of “supporting” nonprofit organizations. Recognize that nonprofit leaders are the subject matter experts as it relates to their area of focus, find comfort in that. Get resources on the ground in a timely manner. Be less concerned about overhead rates. Remove line item giving and provide general operations funding to impactful organizations. End the practice of laborious end of year reporting. Invest in leadership ability, vision and competency so that nonprofit leaders can exercise their entrepreneurship, unlocking the opportunity to create dynamic programs that are timely. When issues are clearly a product of institutional racism and bias, impacting Black people in particular, call that out and invest accordingly. Lastly, provide equitable levels of support to organizations that are led by Black People.
At the highest level, it is imperative that elected officials be present and hear directly from communities most effected by the indefensible murders and abuse of Black bodies. From those engagements, should come interventions and policies that directly address the violence and related trauma. Also, elected officials should use their brand, authority, and influence to create real career opportunities -not jobs… there is a difference- for those same communities.
It is imperative that all people stand up and decide what side of truth and justice that they will rest upon.
Yours in Service,
Miles H. Wilson
and the entire EducationWorks Family