By Rev. Starsky D. Wilson
On September 14, 2015, the Ferguson Commission released Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity report. The Commission’s report provides specific policy recommendations and calls to action to move the region toward racial equity and justice in light of our history and contemporary challenges.
Today, almost two years later to the day, the nature of imbedded and implicit bias in our systems of public safety and judicial accountability have been highlighted again. The community’s distrust of these systems comes at a high cost, which has been borne out in recent preparations for the Jason Stockley trial verdict by city and state elected officials. The costs have piled up across the nation in civil suits paid by cities to victimized families and the billions of dollars racial income inequities cost the St. Louis regional gross domestic product.
More than anything, as employees of the Foundation leave to pick up children released early from school and the Missouri National Guard make their way through the same streets, we recognize the juxtaposition of the two is unhealthy and unsafe for our kids. As noted in Deaconess’ Racial Equity Commitment, released on April 4, 2017:
“Deaconess Foundation has envisioned a community that values the health and well-being of all children and gives priority attention to the most vulnerable…This community can only exist if the allocation of power and distribution of resources, benefits, opportunities and burdens are not predictable, nor determinable by race…To accomplish this vision, we pursue child well-being through public policy and racial equity…Getting to fairness in daily life means swimming upstream to disrupt policies that make racial disparities in our classrooms and neighborhoods possible, while offering innovative alternatives.”
In alignment with this commitment, Deaconess will invest $100,000 in a policy campaign which pursues policy change through grassroots advocacy, civic engagement, and community organizing focused on at least one of the Ferguson Commission Calls-to-Action. This grant is made possible through philanthropic partnership between Deaconess Foundation and the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.
Information on the grant and application process can be found here on our website.
Applications will open Monday, September 18, 2017, and are due November 1, 2017.