Our hearts are heavy, A statement by Gabrielle Kurlander and Dr. Lenora Fulani

Published by Lea Patch

Our hearts are made heavy yet again by the news from East Baton Rouge. Already we’d been grieving over Alton Sterling, Philando Castile in Minneapolis, and for the police officers who lost their lives in Dallas. The divisions in our country, in our society, are deep and destructive.

And it is clear that we are living in a moment where the capacity to resolve this divide is weak and getting weaker. That is frightening and dangerous.

There is a major breakdown going on and the fact is that many people feel abandoned. Black people feel abandoned because our urban communities are so impoverished and because lawless elements in some police forces have not been contained.  Police feel abandoned as they are sent into neighborhoods to deal with anger and poverty, and they are on the front lines of a crisis that has no immediate cure. In that environment the job of a police officer becomes increasingly dangerous.  A society where people feel abandoned, and are abandoned, can only destroy itself. We have to address that abandonment, for everyone, at every level.

During this time when tensions between the African American community and police are especially high, All Stars is continuing our work in cities across the country to create partnerships for growth in order to involve the whole community in creating something new together as an alternative to violence.

In New York, our Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids (Cops & Kids) program, that grew out of the tragic shooting of Sean Bell in 2006 and has been embraced by Police Commissioner William Bratton, now works with all graduating probationary officers from the NYPD academy. On July 6th, we held the tenth demonstration workshop of this award-winning program at the NYPD Police Academy for an audience of close to 500 NYPD officers and 130 inner-city youth and community members from across New York City.

We have also built a strong partnership in Newark with Mayor Ras Baraka and his team to expand Cops & Kids to neighborhoods across the city. We led the first Cops & Kids workshop in Newark at the ASP of NJ Scott Flamm Center for Afterschool Development on June 30th and monthly workshops are planned between now and the end of the year. Read the full press release announcing this new partnership here.

On the ground in Dallas, City Leader Antoine Joyce is working with the entire community, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, Police Chief David Brown, and Dr. Joe Clifford of First Presbyterian Church, among other community, civic and law enforcement officials to play an important leadership role in the dialogue to help the city move forward. We have established a formal partnership with the Dallas Police Department to create a citywide police-community relations program, which grows out of the recognition on the part of Chief Brown of the developmental power of performance to engage people from poor communities in productive and positive activity. Watch the news coverage of the first event of this new partnership here.

Last month at the ASP of Chicago Partners with Youth Benefit Luncheon, we announced the launch of a brand-new campaign to build a Center for Afterschool Development as a way forward to engage Chicago’s history of divisions and inequality and the social development crisis and violence impacting the poor communities. Watch ASP of Chicago city leader David Cherry’s full statement from the event here.

Since ASP of Bridgeport put our programs on the ground in 2014, Director Pamela Lewis and our team have reached over 4,000 young people and their families, added a second Development School for Youth (DSY) class and worked with 17 area companies to double the number of summer internships.

And in the San Francisco Bay Area this month, we held the first Afterschool Development Roundtable, which involved 26 people representing 15 different Bay Area organizations – including the Boys & Girls Club, the Youth Leadership Institute, the Goldman Foundation, the Success Centers and the San Francisco Unified School District – in a conversation about how to move the field of Afterschool Development ahead as a force for social transformation.

As All Stars builds bridges between diverse communities, we are engaging people from all walks of life. We believe Americans want to find ways to come together and we are creating new tools to make that possible. And we want to do more of the same nationally and on a bigger scale.

Please let us know your thoughts (click here).