To our PENCIL Family,
We are devastated and outraged as we mourn the tragic loss of Mr. George Floyd, who is among only the most recent of so many innocent victims of ignorance and senseless violence.
We stand in solidarity with the Black and Brown community in the fight against systemic racial injustice.
And never have we been more committed to our mission to bring equity of opportunity to the young people of our city, especially Black and Brown communities that are disproportionately affected by this inequity.
CLOSING THE OPPORTUNITY GAP
For 25 years, PENCIL has served students in the NYC public school system who today are overwhelmingly working class or low-income and identify as Black and Brown. Every day, we see how systemic racism has severely limited access to opportunity for these students.
PENCIL’s mission is to connect students to success and close this opportunity gap. We do this by building partnerships that bring together business professionals and students from across NYC. In doing so, our work is designed to Open Eyes, Open Minds, and Open Doors for both the students and the business community—two groups that do not often share the same economic, cultural, or societal experiences.
DOUBLING DOWN ON OUR COMMITMENT
Our work has never been more important. And it has never been more important to do our work well. We find ourselves in a unique position to challenge ourselves and our partners to examine and enhance our collective efforts to provide Black and Brown students with the mentorship, skills, and opportunities necessary for success.
To do that, we are encouraging conversations about racism, privilege, equity, and injustice with our PENCIL team, so we can actively listen and learn how to do our work better. We are reevaluating our programming to ensure we are explicitly and effectively increasing opportunity for Black and Brown students and creating safe spaces to navigate conversations of injustice and inequity with our partners.
We are using our upcoming Principal For A Day® webinar as a forum to discuss how schools, students, and staff members are coping and addressing these topics. And we are redoubling our commitment to help open more eyes to the lived experiences of our Black and Brown students with the hope that more business partners will join us to open more doors for these students to walk through.
TOWARD A MORE JUST AND EQUITABLE WORLD
Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting people of color and those who come from economically challenged backgrounds. Recent events have made clear that returning to “normal” is not an option. Together, we must stand in unity, raise our voice, and do our part to fight for a more just and equitable world.
Christopher B. Hayward
Board Chair, PENCIL