December 23, 2021
Dear Supporters and Friends:
As I take in the beauty of Minnesota’s changing seasons, I find myself reflecting on the new opportunities and adventures that seasonal changes bring. In less than a month, I will formerly retire as President of Youthprise, a philanthropic non-profit dedicated to increasing equity for indigenous, low-income, and racially diverse youth. From its early beginning, Youthprise has been intentional about leading with an equity lens through the amplification of youth voice. “If you can walk, you can dance, if you can talk, you can sing” has been our song, the community our orchestra, and young people themselves, our directors. Together, we have tested and scaled solution strategies to systemic racial disparities impacting youth. Our secret sauce has been working with and for youth to bring about true transformational change, especially in youth centered research, philanthropy, and policy arenas. In the process we have not shied away from embracing risk and innovation.
And so, as we prepare for the end of 2021, the time has come to usher in new leadership and embrace new possibilities. Our mission and vision are more urgent now than it ever was. I place my legacy in the strong, capable hands of Marcus Pope, 100% confident that he, together with an intergenerational Board and staff team will continue to lead the organization to a new level of excellence in equity leadership.
I want to thank Youthprise’s early investors, the McKnight Foundation, Saint Paul, and Minneapolis Foundation for their unwavering support and encouragement over the years. But I would be remiss in expressing appreciation if I did not also mention the support we have received from corporate donors, and federal, state, county, and city agencies in executing our mission.
As we lean into the future, we anticipate continuing to share stories about our impact in the areas of learning and leadership, economic opportunity, and health and safety. Those stories are core to who we are and what we stand for. Going forward our work will be anchored around the recommendations of Youthprise’s Next Gen Policy Agenda, which advocates for a youth-centered and youth-informed approach to making policy decisions, and around principles of excellence in advancing a holistic, sustainable model that aligns our actions with our values.
Youthprise will continue to be a champion for our youth in the years. Doing this effectively will require multiple levels of investment from our partners and friends, including:
- Sharing our mission, vision, and activities through word of mouth and social media
- Advocating for young people through civic engagement and promoting policy that positively impacts young people, especially those who are Black, Indigenous and people of color
- Giving financially to help us sustain and expand our work
The first 10 years of Youthprise’s Journey to Equity have been made possible by the support of our partners, stakeholders, and community members. They dared to dream of a world when things worked well for everyone, and not just a privileged few. Our journey has been enriched by the integrity and creativity of Minnesota’s awesome youth.
I want to thank you for partnering with us on this journey, and as we look toward the future of Youthprise, I want to encourage you to keep your eyes on the horizon and the future. Our young people have the best understanding of the most pressing issues they face, and the freshest solution strategies. We must continue to invest in their future. I hope that if we continue down this path, like the changing of seasons, the realities we face today will be a distant memory, and the future we dared to dream of will become our new reality.