As the Board of Directors of FLY, we ensure that FLY supports youth in developing the skills and confidence to create healthy, free, and productive lives. Through our service on the Board, we are privileged to witness, both up-close and from afar, the magical power of positive relationships with our young people that are rooted in love, acceptance, and respect.
How we treat youth in FLY is what we want for youth throughout society: love and compassion, belonging, equity, fairness, and opportunity. In fact, this is what justice looks like for our kids and our communities.
Yet many of our youth and communities have been harmed by the justice system and other fundamental institutions in our society. The marginalization, oppression, and violence they experience takes many forms, but at the root of all of it is the pervasive presence and power of racism. Even as we see positive trends of public safety outcomes across the state, black and brown youth in our communities consistently experience a disproportionate amount of contact with law enforcement and at every decision point in the juvenile justice system.
The status quo and the harm it does to youth cannot stand; the positive contributions youth can make to our communities cannot be disregarded. As FLY’s Board, we recognize our collective responsibility–indeed, our obligation–to advocate for justice for every young person whose life FLY touches. We stand with FLY’s staff, volunteers, and youth in the fight for a fairer and more equitable and just society.
To make justice possible, we must work against the injustices youth experience, including racial inequity, educational disparities, systemic oppression and violence, lack of economic opportunity, unjust immigration policies, and persistent exclusion. This means challenging systems of power and systems of thought that focus on punishment for youth, that limit their opportunities, and that ignore or destroy their potential.
Our vision, values, and passion for FLY’s work all point us toward justice in this moment. We have a strategic plan, Imagine 2030, which focuses on FLY’s framework for action through collaboration and partnership. The strategies that underpin this plan support bold action and bravery in pursuit of FLY’s vision of justice. Together with our youth, our communities, our partners, and our political leaders, we will rebuild our systems to be more effective, equitable, and just.