Our Commitment to Racial Equity
School’s Out Washington is committed to addressing how the disparities brought by systemic racism impact our communities.
We first acknowledge that we carry out our work on stolen land. Our main office resides on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle—the Duwamish People—and our staff and offices stretch across many Indigenous Nations in what is now known as the state of Washington.
We approach this work with an understanding of how SOWA’s founding and structures are rooted in dominant systems.
As an intermediary, we navigate between and within these dominant systems in order to change them. This means our efforts to undo systemic racism and advance equity across youth serving systems and in expanded learning programs must be grounded in an acknowledgement of power and privilege—and in self-reflection.
We know that lasting solutions must be informed by those most impacted by systems of oppression and embraced by those with historical power.
SOWA forges community connections, invites collaboration and works to build meaningful relationships with the programs we exist to support. Internally, we prioritize hiring people with direct and lived experience in our local communities and youth programs. And—as we design, implement and evaluate our core practices, we are increasingly focused on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
Our internal learning and accountability is a work in progress.
Within School’s Out Washington, our team is encouraged to fully engage in both self-work and organizational work as we move toward becoming an anti-racist organization. Both are critically important, and we are continually reminded of just how much there is to do. We must return to our commitments daily. We must fight for liberation for ourselves, our communities, and the young people we are so deeply invested in.
For our BIPOC colleagues, friends, and family—we stand up with you and for you. We will not be silent. To our white allies and co-conspirators—we walk alongside you as we hold each other accountable to the part we play in these systems and the ways in which we can and must push against our own discomfort and privilege.
Our path forward…
SOWA has engaged an internal racial equity team as well as consultants from Every Level Leadership and JVH Empower to help strengthen our internal policies and practices. We are working toward our racial equity goals by supporting staff members in unlearning practices rooted in white supremacy and building new anti-racist practices and skills.