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A Message From White Leaders of YPW to White-Identifying Partners

Dear White Partners of the Youth Passageways Network,

We are reaching out to you, in this intense time for humanity and specifically the United States, with an invitation to weave deeper with Youth Passageways’ work in 2021, and a request for immediate financial support. 

We are asking you specifically because it is our understanding that your group is led by and/or predominantly serves white communities. We believe that we as white folks have a particular opportunity and responsibility to support the next steps of building the visionary, multicultural network that is Youth Passageways.

We see you as an ally in this effort.

This last year painfully illustrated how far we have to go in building a future that works for all of us, and also highlighted the role that groups like Youth Passageways have to play. More people are waking up to the need to look outside of mainstream solutions, and are turning to grassroots communities that have been preserving traditional ways for generations. In order to see holistic systems change in education, mental health, youth development, and law enforcement–the institutions that matter in the lives of young people today–requires building broader and deeper webs of connection. 

This is where Youth Passageways–and you–come in.

Slowly, steadily, and in our own small way, Youth Passageways is building a multicultural, multigenerational family of mutual support –a rite of passage network rooted in a commitment to systems change, including supporting indigenous-led decolonization efforts, cultural reclamation, reparations, and healing.  Our vision is that ALL young people will grow up with a deep sense of identity, belonging, and purpose–a prayer often hard to fund amidst the urgency of the moment. 

Why now? Why is our collective work and multicultural network important to support NOW with all that is moving for each of us, for our organizations and communities? For many of our partner organizations, the challenges that are being presented are beyond our imagination. The impacts of COVID, economic instability, health disparities, ongoing state violence, violent and hateful rhetoric, and the rollbacks of even modest policy gains, have left their communities in deep states of distress. We, as partners of the Youth Passageways network, are practicing mutual support and reciprocity toward the long-term goal of shifting these systemic inequities.

Since Youth Passageways’ founding, many People of the Global Majority (PoGM, a term used to replace the language “People of Color” which honors that they are not “minorities” but are actually the majority, and honors the wide variations in skin color) , from all sorts of racial and cultural backgrounds, have worked to support and build the network. PoGM have taken risks, introducing white leadership within the Youth Passageways network to their young people, communities, and organizations. The rate of progress at times has been painfully slow, as PoGM leadership has had to navigate all the subtle and not-so-subtle impacts of whiteness in Youth Passageways. 

All the emotional, spiritual, and practical labor by BIPOC leaders is incredible investment, highlighting commitment and belief in the vision. As prison abolitionist and former Co-Chair of the Youth Passageways Stewardship Council Kruti Parekh said recently in a  letter to the network:

Youth Passageways is growing into a network equally rooted in anti-oppression and ceremony. We understand that education, spirituality, healing, and justice have always been deeply intertwined, that rites of passage have been stolen from too many of our people. To shift this on a broad scale it is important to center our Black and Indigenous family, particularly efforts led by young people, women, and LGBTQ2SIA+ kin.

In preparation for the next cycle, Youth Passageways is taking a winter season (in the Northern Hemisphere) to renew our vision, integrate all of the changes of 2020, complete key projects, and prepare for a spring season of new beginnings, regeneration and systemic transformation. 

With your help, we are intending to raise $22,000 between now and the full moon of January 28th, to support Youth Passageways’ essential operations through the spring. 

We call upon all of our partners of privilege to give generously this winter: to make two financial gifts to strengthen the network, one to Buffalo Visions, an Indigenous-led partner organization and one to Youth Passageways.

We invite you to share this call to action with 5 individuals or organizations in your network.

As Guardian Gigi Coyle recently described Youth Passageways’ efforts towards building a solidarity fund, 

RIght now, Youth Passageways needs your financial support to take the next steps toward building a network of support for us all. 

Please give what you can.

In love and solidarity,

Darcy Ottey, Siri Gunnarson, Jett Cazeaux, Dane Zahorsky,

Cameron Withey Byrne, Lia Bentley & Gigi Coyle

P.S. Your support helps build a strong multiracial, intergenerational rite of passage movement. Please give generously before the full moon on January 28th!

*a special thanks to the Revolutionary Love Project for the visual inspiration for our heart design!

Youth Passageways Blog

Welcome to the Blog. Here you will find current and archived versions of our ENewsletters, Updates, and posts from partners, and guests.

Interested in contributing to our blog? Contact us at: dane@youthpassageways.org

Youth Passageways is thrilled to provide a platform in which a wide breadth of perspectives can commingle and paint as comprehensive a picture of our partner base as possible. As such, the views and opinions expressed in individual letters, posts, or media content of any kind do not necessarily reflect or represent the Youth Passageways network as an organization, or collective.

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