June 11, 2020

A message from our President & CEO, Verónica Figoli and Board Chair, Priya Burkett

We are all on different learning journeys right now. As mothers of children of color, when we reflect on the injustice and continued inequity that we see in our country we are beyond saddened. We are hurt. No mother should have to fear that her child would be guilty upon sight and concerned when he or she leaves the house.

We stand with our Black community. We stand with our Black students and students of color. We condemn the racial inequity that has plagued our country for centuries, and quite frankly has festered in our own public schools. We have seen our students stand tall as the voices of our present leaders, marching in a DPS student protest.

We realize that even as an organization we have a long way to go, with much to learn. Here is what we have in our journey:

  • In 2019, our Board of Directors committed to becoming a culturally responsive organization, knowing that this must start with leadership. Our board has taken part in educational sessions at each board meeting led by the Culturally Responsive Education Team in DPS. In these sessions, we can reflect and grow to stand by our values of Equity and Students First.
  • Our $1 Million Fund will support efforts to break historical and emerging patterns of inequity so that all students thrive—not by accident, but by design. We remain committed to this fund and are discussing how to gain more relevancy in supporting our schools during this time.
  • We received a $10 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that aims directly at helping more Black, Latinx and low-income students to be on-track to college readiness.
  • Over the years, the A to Z Fund has focused on supporting our most vulnerable students and we are looking into how we can make this even more targeted.

We were on a call last night with a friend who shared, “there is timely urgency, I am predicting that efforts will start to taper down in two and a half weeks’ time.” We will work to ensure that this important work is kept top of mind. This will take time, consistency and intentionality. Here is what we plan to do:

  • This month you’ll hear from our team about concrete ways we can take action. We have talked to Principal Kia Abdool at Cole Arts and Science Academy and plan to host a cleanup day so we can be part of the physical rebuilding of our community.
  • We will host a webinar in partnership with the district on what DPS is doing and what you can do to become more culturally responsive.
  • We will work to provide our community of donors with opportunities to learn and grow together with us, as they arise.
  • We will continue to work harder and be intentional in our support of Equity.
  • We will continue to pace our work so we can be thoughtful and support sustainable change while providing opportunities for authentic conversations.

We are proud to stand with a team and community who shows up and continues to grow, stretch ourselves—and be okay leaning into discomfort. Thank you for working with us as we catalyze change.