Program providers and community leaders issue Community Guidance to ensure the safety of Black and Brown youth amidst COVID-19 summer closures.
Tacoma, Wash. — Thousands of Black and Brown youth who were expected to enroll in summer programs this year will be without a place to go. Due to COVID-19, Tacoma is facing a projected loss of approximately 4,000 summer program slots that provide safe and supportive spaces for many of Tacoma’s Black and Brown youth. This projection is based on program reductions occurring at Tacoma Public Schools and several major institutions adhering to current state restrictions for in-person activities. The amount of lost programming is likely to grow past 4,000 as we continue to learn more about the challenges for medium- and smaller-sized organizations.
“It is the responsibility of our community to work together to stand in the gap,” says Tanya Durand, Executive Director of Greentrike. “We hope that in Greentrike, and in their communities, children will see love, opportunity, and justice.”
Graduate Tacoma partners are now calling on all residents to join them in supporting and looking after the increased number of young people who will likely be looking for other ways to visit with friends and enjoy their summer, absent facilitated programming . As Tacoma continues to rise to the occasion and confront anti-Black racism in our society, the Community Commitment for Safe Youth aims to inform and hold residents, law enforcement, and government leaders accountable to the safety of Black and Brown youth.
“We have the opportunity this summer as adults in the community to show in our actions that we value and care about our young people,” says Holly Bamford Hunt of the Bamford Family Foundation and Board Chair of the Foundation for Tacoma Students.
“To show in our practices that we stand by our community’s Black and Brown young people and their families who have endured trauma due to systemic racism and anti-Black violence.”
A coalition — consisting of the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, and Graduate Tacoma partners that offer summer programming — developed the Commitment with input from students, parents, youth-program providers, and business owners. It outlines behaviors that businesses, agencies, and residents can easily adopt in order to lead with compassion when they come in contact with young people this summer. The guidance centers on four basic principles:
1. Create and Nurture a Welcoming Environment
2. Stop, Listen, and Engage with Youth
3. Check Your Emotions
4. Give Grace
The Community Commitment for Safe Youth is issued in conjunction with the City of Tacoma’s recently-launched Compassionate Tacoma initiative. The initiative is founded in the belief that we each have the ability to make Tacoma a more welcoming, connected, resilient, and vibrant community by listening and serving others with love. Children, youth, and young adults are in need of such a community.