Resilience Through Uncertainty: A Letter From Omar

July 19, 2020

“I realize I don’t know very much. None of us knows very much. But we can all learn more. Then we can teach one another. We can stop denying reality or hoping it will go away by magic. Octavia Butler 

Greetings New Door Ventures community,   

I hope you are remaining safe and resilient during what can only be described as one of the most universally difficult summers on record.    

As a society, we are concurrently navigating: an unrelenting pandemic; tragedies that have sparked a long-overdue reckoning of the institutional racism plaguing our country; the worst job market and worst rates of unemployment since the Great Depression. However, through the collective trauma and heartbreak, these historic moments are finally bringing widespread awareness to the broken systems actively failing vulnerable Americans. It’s also a painful reminder that these broken systems disproportionately impact communities of color. And the youth that New Door serves are dealt the hardest blows. While no one can predict what the economic future will look like for these youth, we are sure that life after shelter-in-place will bring challenges unlike any they have ever faced.   

Findings from the latest Measure of America report, a non-partisan research institution that provides the most up-to-date research on opportunity youth, warn of this very scenario:   

The pandemic will increase the rates of youth disconnection drastically, likely wiping out a decade of progress.   

Disconnected young people tend to hail from low-income communities of color, which, due to centuries of structural racism, are uniquely vulnerable to Covid-19. Thus, these already-vulnerable teenagers and young adults will bear a disproportionate share of sorrow, trauma, and grief as they lose parents and grandparents, friends, and neighbors. Even young people who don’t get seriously ill from the virus or lose a loved one will experience profound impacts on their lives.  

Admittedly, this paints a grim picture. But I am grateful to lead an organization committed to fighting structural inequities since its very beginnings 30 years ago, tirelessly fighting alongside others to build a more just and safe Bay Area. I am confident that New Door will continue to connect youth to jobs, skills training, and support so that they can remain on a productive path to a stable adulthood during this pandemic and beyond.  

Our voice has joined the calls to redirect funds from criminal justice and police budgets to proven models like New Door Ventures. More than ever, there is a need to invest in organizations that prioritize equity and social justice and uplift the most vulnerable in our communities. However, our efforts must be accompanied by policy changes that eliminate the powerful forces of systemic racism and economic marginalization, impeding our youth from experiencing a lifetime of well-being and opportunity.   

I am uncertain what the rest of this year will hold. However, I am feeling buoyed by the overwhelming support New Door continues to receive from our partners, donors, and volunteers, who steadfastly believe in our mission.  

I invite you to learn more at The Glow Up Awards, a celebration of our incredible youth interns. After all, it is young people who have led with resiliency, passion, and courage. And that leaves me hopeful about our future.  

In Community,  

Omar Butler  

CEO, New Door Ventures