Having spent most of my adult life in Houston, my heart breaks for the people of Texas and all my loved ones and former colleagues and students enduring the trauma, devastation, and physical hardship of Hurricane Harvey.
It was the end of my first year of teaching in Houston’s Denver Harbor neighborhood when Tropical Storm Allison unleashed flooding across the city. As a young person living through my first natural disaster, I experienced the juxtaposition of sudden and unexpected loss, and the incredible resilience of individuals and communities in the face of adversity.
I’d lost my car in the flooding and was teaching summer school; a fellow teacher drove out of his way to pick me up each morning to give me a ride. When summer school started up again, my students told stories of houses inundated with water, precious pets missing, and doubling and tripling up with other families who had lost their homes in the flooding.Read More
It is hard to imagine an event that better embodies youth empowerment and engagement than the annual Mockingbird Youth Leadership Summit. The Raikes Foundation has long supported the Mockingbird Society, in part because of the organization’s strong commitment to authentically incorporating the voices of young people into its programs and advocacy.
The Mockingbird Youth Leadership Summit brings together young people who have been in foster care, who have experienced homelessness, or both, and provides an important forum for them to present their proposals for improving the systems that serve these populations to policymakers. A staggering number of these proposals have become reality, through tireless research and reworking, and smart, strategic advocacy on the part of these young people.
This past weekend we witnessed the country at its worst. We saw images of racist, violent protests rivaling the 1960s. And while we espouse that there’s no place for this in America, we must accept that this behavior is a reality in America. But it doesn’t have to be. The white nationalists and neo-Nazis who took to the streets to spread hatred, intolerance and anger are examples of the insidious racism and xenophobia pervading the country. Most of us condemn these most obvious displays of hatred, but racism often doesn’t announce itself so clearly.
Structural inequalities and implicit biases work quietly against people of color daily – particularly young people who have their promise and potential stripped from them. While numerous leaders in our country have spoken up against the actions, true course correction requires more than denouncing a singular display of bigotry. It requires those who speak to us and for us to dismantle the systems that have allowed this kind of hate and intolerance to breed. It's up to all of us to hold our political and cultural leaders accountable, and for each and every one of us to be part of the solution.Read More
Over the past 100 days, community teams in Washington State have been working around the clock to house as many homeless young people as possible. The 100 Day Challenges in Spokane, Pierce, and King counties were designed to generate innovative solutions to youth homelessness by empowering front line staff and disrupting “business as usual,” and I couldn’t be happier to report that the project was a resounding success.
Collectively, Spokane, Pierce, and King Counties helped more than 600 youth and young adults find safe and stable housing in 100 days. That’s roughly six placements a day—nearly 50 percent more than what the 100 Day Challenge teams in Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles achieved last year. And that’s not a knock on those communities, it’s a recognition that we’re learning more and getting better at ending homelessness for young people.Read More