About Us

 

Over the past many weeks we have seen – and felt – the rise in our country and in our world of a demand for an end to the misuse of power and the systemic racism that lies within many of our institutions and governing structures. Sadly, often something must be adequately seen and named by the dominant culture before real action will be taken. At New Day we want to play our role in such action.

We believe Black Lives Matter and support and will participate in dismantling the oppressive systems that have hurt Black, Native and Latinx lives in this country for hundreds of years. We believe that saying Black Lives Matter is not a political statement, but rather a stand for human rights. New Day opposes all forms of racism, and recognizes that the total power of authentic youth voice cannot fully be harnessed until our systems of oppression are no longer.

New Day has always primarily been a service agency, and has been serving young people who are homeless, disconnected and marginalized for the past 44 years. The youth who come to us are disproportionately young people of color, and a disproportionate number are also LGBTQ+. The intersection of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors are powerful sources of oppression that our young people encounter - and we witness - every day. We have worked hard to advocate on behalf of these young people, that they might find some place in our community to be safe and belong.
About seven years ago we began to realize that individual advocacy was not enough. While we made a difference in individual lives, the institutional patterns of behavior were not changing: young people were consistently seen largely as an amalgamation of behaviors, and not as young people struggling with the multiple forms of trauma they had experienced. As a result they were frequently removed from their community, often for years, and sent to “treatment” centers where they learned how to behave in a treatment center, but not live in a community. In school systems they were often expelled instead of deeply heard. In the justice system they were imprisoned and controlled, instead of being inspired and taught the skills of communication, curiosity, and decision-making. Young people consistently were seen through the lens of their deficits, not their strengths.

As these patterns became clear and we were able to name them, New Day, along with many partners, began to shine a light on what we saw and called for a radical re-visioning of how our young people were seen and treated. We called this out and proposed real and effective solutions. As a result of this collective, consistent, persevering pressure, the system is changing- not as fast as we might like - but it is changing.

We say all of this because it provides us with clues for action. While our agency lens has been focused on the patterns mentioned above, we knew that racism and other types of oppression were at minimum contributing factors, and often key deciding factors creating the environments which were causing harm to young people. However, we were not focused on addressing SYSTEMIC racism, but rather addressing it as it arose with individuals. We see that this is not enough and we can do more. We need to expand our lens, and bring deliberate and focused attention to how we can help to eliminate what remains of racism and injustice. We must channel our thoughts and feelings into bold, meaningful efforts that transform our community into a place where every person has the freedom to belong, to live without the daily threat of fear and violence and to walk in the world with dignity and respect. We acknowledge that if we do not take a more active stance in doing this for our Black, Native, and Latinx youth we are inadvertently supporting the oppressive structures. We refuse to do that.

To this end, New Day commits to the following:
1. Prioritize hiring “credible messengers” who are better able to connect with young people, which increases the likelihood of success for the young person.
2. Provide training on systemic oppression, not just cultural sensitivity, but training that empowers staff to better understand the full systemic dynamics of oppression.
3. Creating structured cross-departmental feedback groups to build vision and practice and strengthen accountability across the entire agency.
4. Incorporate cultural stories and humility into all group and individual programming to develop cultural safety and room for an inclusive view of relationships.
5. Set high expectations for ongoing staff reflection, personal growth, and awareness of personal bias to create an atmosphere of respect, curiosity and learning.
6. Challenge bias when we see it in our community, and assertively name it, and seek to be part of healing and repair.
7. Provide opportunities for young people to connect with community leaders and get involved in efforts to promote new approaches to community safety.
8. Support and protect youth who want to participate in protests and demonstrations.
9. Live by a set 10 agency values that guide all of our work, one of which is cultural responsiveness, and work hard every day to hold ourselves accountable to these values.

Finally, we want to honor the young people of our community, many of whom are leading this call for change. Many have experienced the trauma of racism, dehumanization and marginalization along with many other traumatic experiences. We are with you. We also want to honor those who have persisted over the years in calling out these issues. Your perseverance has helped the world, this nation and our community to this point, and we owe a great debt to you, especially those who have died in service to this cause. May your deaths not be in vain, and may we take the opportunity of this moment in time and fully realize a world free of systemic racism. We are committed to do all that we can in our small part of the world to support this unfolding vision.

In Solidarity,
The Leadership Team and Board of Directors
New Day Youth & Family Services