ROC the Future, like the rest of our community is deeply troubled by the images we saw of the last moments of Daniel Prude’s life. The systems that should have helped Daniel Prude failed him, and we share our most profound sympathy with his family, friends and with our community. Mr. Prude’s death is yet another example of how racism negatively impacts the health and life trajectory of the Black community. Rochester, like several other StriveTogether communities, is not immune to the impact and resulting inherent disparities of structural racism. We must work together to change systems if we are to achieve a safe and more equitable future for all – especially for our children.

ROC the Future maintains its commitment to ensuring the future success of Rochester’s children by helping to change these inequitable systems. As our current climate shifts and changes, we must continuously ask ourselves: “How are the children?”

For the past 6 months, our children have suffered through a global pandemic, community unrest, school closure and remote learning, and have lost adult and peer connections that supported their social and emotional development. All the evidence shows that Black and brown children in this country are being disproportionately harmed by the consequences of the pandemic, just as they are by the concurrent local and national events these past few months of police violence resulting in the deaths of Black men and women. This latest instance of systemic failure and its resulting community outcry for justice—including the demonstrations children and youth are witnessing, and in some cases, joining—place additional burdens on them that we must address. We must act now.
The critical and necessary work of ROC the Future towards restructuring our systems for more equitable outcomes must continue.

ROC the Future is:
• Working to support school reopening—ensuring that children are ready and that schools have plans to provide the necessary services and supports for them and their families.
• Prioritizing social and emotional support for students of color to support coping with the current climate, activities, and conversations around police brutality.
• Supporting efforts for students with disabilities, especially those targeting school discipline policies, and reduce the negative impact they have on Black and Latino males.
• Identifying and making public the realities of systemic inequities within education—including teacher diversity, teacher practice, curriculum, and pedagogy, as well as the digital divide. For example, a culturally responsive curriculum should include teaching about the events surrounding Daniel Prude’s death and historic police violence.
• Creating opportunities to better engage parents and family members, both as providers of the critical developmental needs of their children, and to advocate for supports and services they need.

There is more we can, should and will do, but we will begin here. We support our children and our community in its quest for justice, and will continue to be authentic, active, and engaged leaders in the work to restructure our systems. We are focused on children’s success — TOGETHER.