As America watched the heartbreaking video of George Floyd’s death, it brought to the forefront the racial and economic divisions plaguing our country, and it was a disturbing reminder of the systemic oppression and inequities that have been impacting black communities for hundreds of years. We’ve heard from our families who described feeling “petrified” and “in fear of our lives” over the past weekend, but unfortunately, this was not the first time many of them have lived in fear in a world where individuals are too often misjudged, mistreated and persecuted due to the color of their skin.

At Ryan Banks Academy, our commitment is to educate, support and lift up Chicago students by providing equal access to quality education no matter what zip code a student may live in. We believe our model is one that is desperately needed to address the stark disparity in resource and opportunity access for children of color who deserve so much more. Our students’ voices deserve to be heard, and their dreams realized.

We know many people in the community are looking for ways to give back right now, and we are humbled by those who have donated time, resources, and money to our school and our students. These donations have provided our families with food and safe shelter during these uncertain times, and will continue to provide Chicago students with a transformational opportunity and a path toward a bright future. If you’re able and interested in contributing or getting involved, please reach out to me at valerie@ryanbanksacademy.org to learn more or visit ryanbanksacademy.com/donate to make a recurring or one-time gift to RBA.

Please also take 90 seconds to watch this video by Gemara Williams, who is a Ryan Banks Academy Board of Directors member and a former NFL player for the New England Patriots about why he is passionate about this important topic.

Thank you for everything you’ve done to make the Ryan Banks Academy community what it is today, and I look forward to our continued work together.