by Gerald Richards, CEO of 826 National 2011-2017
826 National was inspired to take a stand on issues of inclusion and diversity in light of the many events that spotlighted social and racial injustices throughout the country. We as educators, volunteers, and caring adults need to be aware of the wide range of issues our students face on a day-to-day basis. We need to support these young people as they navigate through and try to make sense of the world and their own identities.
We stand for our students.
We stand for our students’ right to express their opinions—freely, creatively, and safely—and to provide them the space to do that, free of judgment and full of support.
We stand for our students’ right to tell their stories, share their experiences, and seek out information and answers. We stand for connecting our students to caring adults—volunteers eager to listen as students search for answers and discover themselves.
Through our work and our actions, we must continuously support the development of our students’ voices and stories, and also celebrate those voices and stories.
We stand for building diverse and inclusive environments for our students, our volunteers, and our staff.
We need the support and the feedback from our community to ensure 826 is living up to these standards. Through our inclusion statement, our internal diversity and inclusion group, cultural competency resources provided to staff and volunteers, and partnerships with other organizations, we are always working towards being a more inclusive and supportive organization.
We at 826 have the privilege of working with the next generation of scholars, teachers, doctors, artists, lawyers, and writers. It’s our job to make sure they are able to take their own stands.
As an organization committed to encouraging youth in their creative expression, personal growth, and academic success, 826 National and its chapters recognize the importance of diversity at all levels and in all aspects of our work. In order to build and maintain the safe, supportive 826 environment in which great leaps in learning happen, we commit ourselves to inclusion: we do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, nationality, marital status, English fluency, immigration status, parental status, military service, or disability.
The 826 National network is committed to encouraging youth to express themselves and to use the written word to effectively do so. We encourage our students to write, take chances, make decisions, and finish what they start. And 826 strives to do this in an environment free from discrimination and exclusion.