We must center racial equity to achieve our mission
Child First Authority, Inc., understands racial equity to mean “the condition where a person’s racial identity does not influence how they fare in society.” We know that one’s racial identity intersects with other factors, so to this definition, we add place, gender, sexuality, learning differences, English language proficiency, and financial resources. While these factors should not influence the potential of the youth who live in Baltimore City, they often do. Child First Authority grounds its work in a model that builds on the assets of each youth and family. Yet, we operate in an environment shaped by structural racism and systemic oppression that has deep, pervasive, and historical roots.
The mission of Child First Authority is to develop youth and strengthen families by providing high-quality community schools and after-school and summer learning programs that promote academic achievements, social and emotional well-being, and parent leadership.
Equity has been a long-standing tenet of Child First’s work, and we believe that achieving our mission requires more intentionally and focus to center racial equity in all of our work.
Our values anchor our racial equity perspective
We believe that racial equity requires action. As we reflect on our values, we recognize and accept that creating racial equity starts with the decisions we make within our organization, schools, and programming. We believe these four core values ground our racial equity approach and are foundational to fulfilling our mission.
Our Core Values:
- Results: We believe our approach to our work is unique, vital, and gets results. Our commitment to youth, families, schools, and communities demands that we produce the highest quality programs that engage stakeholders, connect actions with outcomes, and realize our goals for change.
- Relationships: Our understanding of relational power sets us apart from other organizations. Building relationships is a deliberate act aimed at cultivating community in ways that build power to demand resources for youth and their families in Baltimore.
 Adapted from “racial equity” definition from Equity in the Center, “Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Racial Equity Culture”.
 Structural racism in this context refers to a system in which public policies and institutional practices work in ways that reinforce racial inequities, adapted from the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change.
 Systematic oppression refers to the ways in which history, culture, ideology, public policies, institutional practices, and personal behaviors interact to form a hierarchy — based on race, class, gender, sexuality, and other group identities– that allow the privileges associated with the dominant group and the disadvantages associated with the marginalized group to endure and adapt over time.
Source: OpenSource Leadership
- Respect and humility: We approach others respectfully and in ways that demonstrate that we value them and their contributions. We value others’ perspectives even when different than our own. We have high expectations of what youth and families can contribute because our work builds on their assets.
- Responsibility: We do our best in all that we take on. We assume ownership for producing the best possible results in our areas of work. We acknowledge that we do not always have the answers to every question. We accept responsibility for the best outcomes as well as in those instances where we do harm.
Grounded in these values, we commit to incorporating a racial equity perspective into our everyday work that calls out structural racism and systemic oppression. To actively use a racial equity perspective means to review, examine, and question our policies, practices, and procedures to look for racial inequities and make changes when we find them. It also means demonstrating an understanding of the different situations that youth and families present and incorporating that reality into classrooms, programming, and practices. We own our responsibility to work in equitable ways that center the humanity of our youth, families, staff, partners, and community members.
Without this explicit commitment, we believe that we cannot achieve our mission.
Our racial equity work in the year ahead
In the coming year, Child First Authority commits to examining how our practices and systems unintentionally reinforce systemic oppression in the experiences of youth and families. We will actively work to disrupt harmful behaviors and dismantle inequitable policies by taking the following actions:
- We will continue to make space for ongoing staff discussions for teaching and learning about systemic oppression together. We will create a space for reflection and critique to help our organization do its work better. We will engage in professional development, trainings, and facilitated discussions that build our muscles to undo racism.
- We will review our hiring, promotion, and retention practices.
- We will dedicate time in our annual board retreat and board meetings to discuss where Child First Authority is in its racial equity journey and identify opportunities for deeper board learning.
- We will be intentional in supporting our partnerships. We will prioritize those whose values and practices align with our values relevant to racial equity.
Child First Authority understands that racial equity as a practice is a work in progress. We will hold ourselves accountable to live our values, fulfill our commitments, and carry out the actions we have identified for the upcoming year. We invite our youth, families, and partners to hold us accountable for our plans.