A letter from BGCSF President Rob Connolly to supporters:
Over the past two weeks we have seen and felt the anger and pain of people across this country, most especially Black Americans and other people of color. That pain and anger is also felt by the staff of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, too many of whom have their own stories that reflect the same racism, the same injustice, and the same aggression that is behind the high-profile stories that make the national news and grip this nation.
Racism in all its forms undermines the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco. Racism undoes the hard work that youth, families, and staff do, together, to help young people learn, grow, and succeed in life. Racism cripples our young people’s potential and undermines all that we believe in. Racism hurts people who we care deeply about -- our colleagues, our friends, our mentors, our coaches, our bosses, and our loved ones.
Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco has in its DNA a deep and authentic passion for serving the needs of those youth who need us most. This is who we are and it will never change. The staff of the Club is its strength, representing all races. Staff are smart, strong, diverse, passionate, and deeply committed to helping all young people succeed in life. Yet, we too need to stop and assess where we come up short … or where we miss the mark completely. Both as individuals and as an organization. We have to commit to getting smarter and to working harder, but most importantly, we must listen if we are to help bring about a more just and equitable future for the young people to whom this organization is dedicated.
George Floyd has now been laid to rest. The conversation about racial inequality and institutional racism in this country must not be laid to rest with him. We must do the hard work of unpacking and addressing the racism that plagues and weakens this nation … and should profoundly offend our sense of right and wrong … our sense of fairness and equity.
Statements alone are not enough. Action is required and this organization is committed to acting. Sometimes our action will be to double down on the critical work we do every day to reach large numbers of youth in need, building deeply meaningful and caring relationships with youth that support their personal growth and opportunities for success. This is where we are at our best. But you will also see us push harder to amplify the voices of our youth and staff, so our supporters hear more perspectives, especially from those with a vastly different lived experience. And, you will see us bring forward conversations on the critically important work of police reform, the massively challenging but essential work of school reform and criminal justice reform, and more … all to lend our voice and our influence to the movement underway for true and lasting change for communities of color, and Black Americans in particular.
As I look forward, I see much cause for optimism. The protests are powerful and effective. Broad and diverse populations of people are showing up to have their voices heard … and they are. I am especially optimistic when I look at young people. I am impressed by their strength, conviction, intellect, and determination. There are impressive leaders and diverse populations of young protesters, who are passionately insisting upon change, understanding that America can and must do better.
BGCSF is currently offering free support and training to Black-serving and Black-led individuals and organizations participating in The Dream Keeper Initiative, a citywide effort launched in 2021 to reinvest $120 million over two years into San Francisco’s diverse Black communities.
April is Arab American Heritage Month and I am excited to both reflect on what this month means to me personally and share how BGCSF and Camp Mendocino engage Arab youth and their families.
We are pleased to highlight a member of our Senior Leadership Team, Erin Gutierrez. Erin has served the BGCSF community for 15 years. Her experience spans multiple roles across the organization and provides a powerful and unique perspective on the holistic impact of BGCSF.