Foundation President’s Statement on Freddie Gray Death

Posted April 29, 2015, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog foundationpresidentsstatementonfreddiegray 2015

Mul­ti­ple tragedies over many months have laid bare for all to see how far we have to go before all lives are val­ued equal­ly. The deaths of Trayvon Mar­tin, Eric Gar­ner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Wal­ter Scott and now Fred­die Gray among so many oth­ers break our hearts and test our souls. Fuel­ing the hurt, fear, dis­ap­point­ment and bit­ter frus­tra­tion many of us are feel­ing right now is a belief that all peo­ple must be treat­ed with fair­ness, jus­tice and dig­ni­ty, and a deep con­vic­tion that all lives matter.

Fred­die Gray was just 25 years old — that piv­otal age when we hope young peo­ple are launch­ing into careers and oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties that will equip them for long, pro­duc­tive and pros­per­ous lives. His death is par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­turb­ing for us at the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion because we work so hard to help ensure young peo­ple have a bright future, that they are healthy, resilient and safe.

As painful as the inci­dents of vio­lence and loot­ing were last night, it is infi­nite­ly more painful when we rec­og­nize that per­sis­tent­ly poor neigh­bor­hoods are leav­ing far too many teenagers and young adults dis­con­nect­ed from hope and oppor­tu­ni­ty — espe­cial­ly African-Amer­i­can youth. Bal­ti­more is a great city, but we know that our home­town can­not suc­ceed unless these young peo­ple can gain access to a good edu­ca­tion, careers that pro­vide liv­able wages, qual­i­ty health care and strong com­mu­ni­ty resources.

In this dark hour, we see an oppor­tu­ni­ty moment to sup­port action on behalf of the young peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ty. The Casey Foun­da­tion is com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing our efforts to ensure the suc­cess of teenagers and young adults in Bal­ti­more, espe­cial­ly those who are dis­con­nect­ed from opportunity.

In the near term, we will imme­di­ate­ly reach out to our clos­est Bal­ti­more part­ners includ­ing non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, res­i­dent groups, pub­lic offi­cials, the faith-based com­mu­ni­ty and oth­ers to deter­mine how we can help to accel­er­ate their work aimed at get­ting young peo­ple con­nect­ed to edu­ca­tion­al and eco­nom­ic suc­cess. We also want to fos­ter con­ver­sa­tions that allow youth and young adults to express their con­cerns, hopes and dreams, believ­ing our com­mu­ni­ty is will­ing to lis­ten with open hearts and open minds.

For the longer term, we will invest in work to build bet­ter futures for Bal­ti­more’s youth and young adults. The Casey Foun­da­tion has been a part of numer­ous nation­al and local ini­tia­tives and projects focused on young peo­ple who have become dis­con­nect­ed from oppor­tu­ni­ty, resources and hope — young peo­ple nei­ther in school nor in the work­force, young peo­ple who have been touched by the child wel­fare and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems, young peo­ple cheat­ed of their futures by poor schools, and young peo­ple con­signed to some of the poor­est areas of this coun­try. We believe we can do more, much more, to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ty for our young peo­ple, and that we should place a spe­cial focus on Bal­ti­more as we take up this work.

As we move for­ward, we humbly acknowl­edge the long­stand­ing work of orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als in Bal­ti­more and around the coun­try. Address­ing the chal­lenges faced by count­less young peo­ple in this city and nation­al­ly will no doubt require part­ner­ships with many lead­ers already devot­ed to this work, includ­ing and espe­cial­ly the youth and young adults themselves.

All of us who call Bal­ti­more and this region our home have a role in help­ing young peo­ple suc­ceed. Their future is our responsibility.
 

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