SEO is navigating uncharted waters these days in our efforts to continue addressing the societal inequities that Black Americans and SEO students have historically experienced, recently exacerbated by COVID-19 and the horrific deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. While these deaths and the ongoing protests highlight an unjust system, they are sadly indicative of truths that SEO has long been working to undo by preparing young Black men and women for positions of power and influence. And even as frustrations over persistent American racial injustice have created a renewed sense of purpose at SEO, the coinciding pandemic has in turn created urgent new challenges.
For while many felt the pressures of the pandemic most acutely at its start, it is the ongoing and long-term needs which have been created that pose the greatest threat to the young people whom SEO exists to uplift. Now, more than ever, SEO needs your help. We are working remotely and above capacity to ensure that our programs serving 4,000 young people annually continue to thrive no matter the challenges we face. We know that talent is distributed evenly, regardless of skin color - help us ensure that opportunity is, too.
Your generous support will allow SEO to address these needs by:
· Purchasing technology for students to attend classes remotely;
· Acquiring headphones, lap-desks, and other similar items so Scholars can find quiet space to study in their bustling family homes;
· Allowing college students to taking summer classes so they remain on track for graduation;
· Providing emergency assistance to students and their families.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted life as most of us knew it, we now know that low-income families are being affected at staggering rates, as are Black and Latinx families. As outlined in a Federal Reserve report, nearly 40% of households with an annual income below $40,000 have lost employment since March of this year. And the CDC has dedicated an entire page to how the pandemic is highlighting racial injustice by affecting Black and Latinx communities much harder than their white counterparts.
This has created serious repercussions for the population SEO serves. Our Scholars attending colleges nationwide have faced sudden closings of schools and dorm lockouts, and many have needed assistance to travel home. Some have had to purchase equipment and technology to continue to be able to learn digitally, while others have lost work-study and campus employment, summer enrichment opportunities, and now don’t know if internships can continue as planned.
But SEO is not deterred. We exist to break the cycle of poverty by helping underserved students reach their full potential and graduate from college – with a 90% graduation rate. A college degree means $1 million more in average lifetime earnings. A college degree means a 4 times greater likelihood that one’s children will complete college. A college degree, effectively, breaks the cycle of poverty.
P.S. – If you choose to support our Scholars, please consider accompanying your gift with a note offering them your encouragement, advice, or other words of wisdom. Even though our Scholars are among the best when it comes to overcoming adversity, they are still young people facing a moment unlike any in their lifetimes. At the end of our campaign, we will gather all the notes and distribute them to our Scholars!