Today and every day we stand together with the families we serve, our partners, and volunteers and condemn racism and hate.
The past three months have been difficult for our students, their families, our partners, and volunteers as they navigate the stress, trauma, and uncertainty of a pandemic paired with a country and community in pain. Stress, trauma, and uncertainty, however, are not new to the students and families we serve.
While anyone can become homeless, discrimination that perpetuates disparities has contributed to a disproportionate number of black families being impacted by homelessness. Across the United States, black people make up 40% of the homelessness population despite representing 13% of the general population. This overrepresentation of black families impacted by homelessness is present in Indianapolis and is reflected in the identity of the children and families we serve each day.
In addition, black residents of Marion County are currently testing positive for coronavirus at nearly twice the rate of white residents. These are numbers we can’t ignore because black lives matter. The families we serve matter. Our neighbors matter.
When describing the work we do, we often say we are breaking the cycle of homelessness through education. We firmly believe in the power of education. We also understand and embrace that education goes beyond building grade level skills for our students. We know we must better educate ourselves about the manifestations of racism and understand our role in addressing it in order to create a more just and equitable world for our students and their children for generations to come.
While we are focused on creating a just and equitable future, we’re also rooted in the present. The work we do daily as we walk alongside children and families impacted by homelessness to provide tutoring and academic support continues. When the highest threat of this pandemic passes, it will leave in its wake unemployment, hunger, evictions, medical bills, and greater obstacles to accessing education than we have ever seen as an organization. There will be even more families who will need our direct services. We will be ready to support them.
We continue to focus on our ongoing diversity efforts to build a staff and volunteer base whose diverse experiences and voices will help guide our programs and impact as we scale to meet this need. We are committed to always listening, learning, and continuing to educate ourselves as we work with our community to create lasting change.