Wed, Jul 01, 2020

Letter from Plinio Ayala, President & CEO

As together we grapple with the horrible act of violence that caused the death of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans both in recent days and throughout our country’s history, I feel deep sorrow and anger that these racist actions persist. It is time for all of us to stand united and say as loud as possible this cannot be tolerated any longer. We must say this not just today or tomorrow, but every day, in all of our communities, because sadly, our nation has a short memory.

We have all seen how racial injustice has been part of our law enforcement for decades, and unfortunately, the death of George Floyd seems like a recurring nightmare. I remember the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles in the 90’s and how that eventually faded from media coverage without lasting changes to the system. Similarly, with Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner - news cycles covered these events, but the system persisted. Now more than ever, we know that we must join with the Black Lives Matter movement in the fight for justice. As a nonprofit dedicated to equity of opportunity, we need to have a voice at these times, as well as being part of the solution.

This tragedy falls within a broader systemic racism that the very communities Per Scholas supports have struggled against for decades, as exemplified by the disproportionate Covid-19 deaths of people of color, and the deep economic impact it is having on our communities. It affects our families, our children, our students, our alumni, our employer partners, and our institutions.

I know that my black brothers and sisters are exhausted and in pain. I am tired with you, I hurt with you. But know that I will always stand next to you, as does Per Scholas. As an organization dedicated to improving the lives of our students and alumni through IT training, we will provide support whenever and wherever possible.

As a result, Per Scholas is dedicated to creating space for our students, alumni, and staff to reflect on issues of racial justice and equity to process what is happening thoughtfully and with an open arena for conversation. We are here for you.

At the same time, I and the entire leadership team here at Per Scholas are thinking about ways we can play a more active role in standing up for what is right. While acknowledging our pain, expressing our empathy, listening, and sharing will begin a process of healing, we recognize that action is required. My hope is that we will work together towards striving to achieve our mission of opening doors to transformative technology careers, while also supporting greater equity and justice in the communities where we live and work.

With my full support,

President & CEO, Per Scholas