This is an extraordinarily painful moment for our country, for our communities and for Breakthrough, a moment that compels us to underscore the bedrock values we embrace every day:
The Breakthrough Collaborative stands with our entire community in opposition to all forms of injustice and racism.
The prompt for this message, of course, is the series of horrific events – set in motion by the homicide deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others – that testify to this nation’s persistent racism and embedded systemic inequities that disproportionately affect Black men, women and children.
These are Our Students, Our Teachers, Our Staff and Our Families. This trauma, despair and anger is a story that hits home and one we must address directly.
For more than 40 years, we have been a safe haven for under-resourced and minority youth who too often lack access to the supportive and secure communities, the role models, and the practical tools for accessing educational opportunities and achieving their goals. Without it, there can be no optimism for a better future.
Receiving this support must be the unequivocal right of every single child in the United States. We know you are with us in doing everything possible to make that happen.
These tragic events are occurring amid another significant disruption in our students’ lives, as the COVID-19 pandemic and national health, economic and educational upheavals are still very much with us. There is no question that the combination of these issues will create learning gaps for all students, and that students like ours are most at risk.
Our commitment is to continue speaking out against racism and uniting for change as we ensure the pathways for a new generation of leaders, and, through them, a society with justice, equity and opportunity for all.
Racial Equity & Justice: Breakthrough's Commitment and Next Steps
Here are some of the things that are in progress as we honor Breakthrough’s commitment to our stated values – including diversity, equity and continuous learning – day in and day out.
1. Establishing a Collaborative Race & Equity Advisory Group: We are assembling a diverse panel of leaders – including Trustees and directors from both affiliates and the National Office. The goal is to ensure an anti-racist and equity agenda becomes a key priority for the organization at all levels.
2. Committing to bringing more leaders of color into the Collaborative: We are focused on growing, hiring, and retaining leaders of color across the Collaborative and National Office, as well as increasing representation on our National board.
3. Contracting for expertise: We are engaging with outside counsel to assist us in this work, which will include an audit of National policies and procedures and will prioritize such activities board recruitment and staff development.
4. Providing Shared Resources: We developed a Collaborative-wide Resource Guide for affiliates, inclusive of existing and new curriculum support, articles, videos, podcasts, and other tools to help navigate these complex issues.
5. Engaging Together in Continuous Learning: We will use the aforementioned resources more broadly as part of a renewed focus on learning together. As a start, we have shared a Breakthrough Summer Book List highlighting Black authors and relevant reading on social justice and anti-racism.
6. Partnering for Impact: We are developing partnerships with like-minded organizations that represent Breakthrough’s perspective in this space.
In closing, you have this pledge from all of us at Breakthrough Collaborative: We will do the work. We will be vigilant and challenge ourselves, individually and collectively, to do better. We will engage our community in a dialogue that prioritizes the safety, security, and futures of our students and teachers, and commit to continuously fight against institutionalized inequities, racism and injustice on all fronts.