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Making Waves’ Commitment To Racial Justice

by Patrick O’Donnell and Alton B. Nelson, Jr.

Dear members of the Making Waves community,

Our country is once again facing the devastating impact of persistent and systemic racism. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery – acts of violence against Black Americans, both from police officers and civilians – are not new. They reflect a centuries-long history of white supremacy and anti-Blackness, ideologies that have been ingrained in our country since before its founding. This moment is a painful reckoning for our country and our community, and it is most painful for our Black students, alumni, families, colleagues, and supporters who live in fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, who are exhausted by the struggle for justice and for our country’s unwillingness to truly value Black lives. We condemn systemic racism and violence; we stand in solidarity with Black Americans; and we commit ourselves to advancing racial justice.

For the past 30 years, our work at Making Waves has centered on interrupting inequity by advancing educational opportunities for historically underrepresented and underserved youth. For us, K-12 education is about helping students identify their life dream and providing access to the learning, opportunities, and support they need to make it reality. We know that our Black students and students of color face additional barriers on the path to their life dream, so we provide extra supports to address and mitigate the traumas associated with generational poverty and racism. When our students reach college, their path to graduation requires navigating a system that wasn’t built for them, racial discrimination, and low expectations, so we coach our students to equip them with the skills and experiences needed to excel, persist, graduate, and thrive.

One of the lessons of this moment is that dismantling systemic racism requires us to do the work of being actively anti-racist. We must do this at a personal level; we must do it within our organizations; and we must do it as part of our work with the students and families we serve. We commit to doing this challenging and necessary internal equity work at Making Waves to advance justice.

  • We will invest in our staff members’ learning and development on systemic racism and allyship in order to build the collective knowledge and skill our teams need to advance equity.
  • We will invest in the learning and development of our leadership teams and managers so our most senior leaders are building relationships, managing effectively across lines of difference, and fostering diverse, equitable, and inclusive teams.
  • Over the next three months, we will work closely with our teams, especially our Black staff members and staff members of color, to listen to their experiences and perspectives, and to collaborate to identify and solve for equity gaps in our organizations.

This movement for racial justice taking hold in our community and across our country is calling us to renew our commitment to equity, and at the same time, to do more than we have ever done. To the Black members of our Making Waves community and to all Black Americans, Making Waves stands with you in fighting for racial justice and opportunity.

Onward and upward,
Patrick and Alton