We Grieve and We Commit

We Grieve and We Commit

We Grieve and We Commit

I and my colleagues at STEM Next grieve for George Floyd and his family. We grieve for Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, and the other Black men, women, and children who have died in police shootings. These tragedies demand more than grief for those killed and thoughts and prayers for their families. Our grief must be coupled with accountability and action. We must demand justice for the Black community.

I express my sympathy and sorrow and take a stand for our country’s Black men, women, and children —their lives matter. I have spent my life’s work in education and politics to support equal educational and economic opportunities in every community. The dreams of Black families for their children matter. Today I make the following commitments on behalf of STEM Next to stand up for justice.

We commit to listen and learn. We will increase our efforts to listen and learn from youth and families to understand their needs, concerns, and aspirations. We will listen and learn from the leaders of nonprofits —particularly those who are Black— who are working with Black youth in communities and ecosystems across the country. We will bear responsibility to continue to educate ourselves on the persistent systemic injustices in education and inequities in access to resources for learning in and out of school.

We commit to take action. We will amplify the voices of Black and other leaders of color in communities who are fighting for change. We will make a place for these leaders in convenings for funders, in strategic planning for policy and programming, and on panels at convenings. In our funding and advocacy, we will prioritize support for programs for Black youth, their families, and others who have experienced hatred and discrimination. We will encourage other funders to do the same to multiply effects and make impacts faster.

We commit to examining racism in science. Too often, most of us present science as a race-free zone, but we know that bad science has supported racist theories and/or harmed Black people in the past. Similarly, institutional racism has narrowed the path of success for some young people in science. We commit to making ourselves aware of these failures, communicating about them, and combating them.

We commit to hold ourselves accountable for change. We will put ourselves in places and spaces that make us uncomfortable and challenge us to do better. On a personal level we will examine our White privilege and how it has affected our actions and inaction. The team at STEM Next will demand more of ourselves.

We need to step up and make this the moment where we are the change. I commit myself and STEM Next commits to this essential work.

Ron Ottinger
Executive Director