In our 30 years of serving homeless runaway and trafficked youth who come to our doors at Covenant House NJ, we have come to understand that systemic racism and oppression is a major contributor to youth homelessness. We have always been an agency built on inclusion and committed to love all who come to our doors. As the issue of systemic racism is highlighted due to more recent gross injustices in our country, we at CHNJ are in full solidarity with those seeking to establish social justice and do our best to address the issue in the context of homeless youth. We commit to keeping this front and center and serve as a voice for our youth in the community.
It is our mission to serve our young people with absolute respect and unconditional love. This mission requires us to be part of the movement to embrace a holistic commitment to racial justice, and proactively promote anti-racism, diversity, equality, and inclusion in our organization and our community.
Over 90% of young people we serve in Newark, and 77% in Atlantic City are people of color, as is the majority of our staff.
Racism and injustice are real in the lives of our young people and our staff. Over 90% of young people we serve in Newark, and 77% in Atlantic City are people of color, as is the majority of our staff. We know firsthand how racism has caused our kids to be routinely marginalized and denied access to quality education and employment, which are essential components of how we transition homeless youth to independent living.
In the last month, we have created a Taskforce made up of staff throughout our Agency to address social justice in four key areas:
Through The Dove Learning Center, we plan to offer our youth an educational experience which explores race in a way that instills dignity and honor. Our goal is to bring truth to the lies advanced by stereotypes and a history of racism. Our goal is to have our youth come away with a sense of self-worth and be motivated to use their voice for positive change.
CHNJ embraces the task of improving our organization for our youth and staff. We know this means taking an in-depth look within to decide where best to put efforts towards cultural inclusion, celebration, and sensitivity. Beyond that, CHNJ is committed to hiring practices that level the playing field and truly reflect diversity in all of our staffing needs.
We recognize that our staff is diverse and has experienced and witnessed an array of social injustices. CHNJ is committed to creating an inviting cultural climate and workspace where people feel free to share ideas, ask questions, and have authentic conversations. We are planning future trainings and staff meetings to achieve this end. We vow to celebrate our differences and recognize that our diversity strengthens us.
CHNJ takes pride in its advocacy efforts for all of the young adults we serve. Through our Youth Advocacy Center, we will explore co-creating legislative changes with our youth to get them involved as we seek equal opportunity and access to resources to stabilize their crisis and move toward successful independence.
We are called to feel their pain. We name it, we own it, we feel it, and then we act.
Addressing the issue of Social Justice will be an ongoing process. We are working together with our staff and youth to develop concrete outcomes that will provide growth, change, and healing opportunities as CHNJ considers, “What is the loving thing to do?’ We are called to feel their pain. We name it, we own it, we feel it, and then we act. That’s what being in solidarity with our young people means.
Join us in prayer and action to end racial and social injustice, which will help us continue our mission of improving the lives of homeless youth, ourselves, our organization, and the world.
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