We at Sherwood Forest are saddened and angered by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, other unnamed victims of police brutality and systemic racism, and the violence recently seen against peaceful protestors in our city and country. We recognize the anguish expressed on the faces of our black family members, friends and fellow community members as they are deprived of dignity, respect, and value of human life given to white community members. We acknowledge that racism erases clear pathways to educational opportunities, economic mobility, and other important life outcomes. Racism and the systemic inequities that continue to disparage our neighborhoods fail families of color, including the children that we serve. Our work and that of many other individuals, institutions, and organizations will be continually blockaded if those are not corrected. Therefore, we, as an organization and as individuals, have a responsibility to do the work that comes with dismantling the systems that harm and hinder progress and eliminates these divides.

The Forward Through Ferguson Report asked us to consider the “whole child—thinking about every child as a developing human being with unknowable, infinite potential—impels us to think holistically about how we as a society, as a community, as a region, can support that child.” We are committed to serving our community and delivering on our promise to help kids discover the best in themselves so they can grow up to do good in the world by connecting them, educating them, and inspiring them. It’s what we have done for more than 80 years. But there is always more we can do. We can still listen more, learn more and speak out more against racism and the systems that perpetuate it in our community.

At our core, we are both a Youth Development and Anti-Poverty Agency. We believe that education and opportunity are rights fundamental to all children, and this vision guides our mission to transform the lives of children in need through powerful programs that allow them to discover their self-worth, realize their potential, and become productive citizens. We hope for a day when all children have equal access to education and opportunity. Until then, and now more than ever, we are unwavering in our commitment to this work.