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Gary Community Investments to Honor George Floyd through Renewed Commitment to Black Community

Seventeen days ago, under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, George Floyd used his last breath to utter the words, "I can't breathe.” Tuesday he was laid to rest.

The moment Chauvin raised his knee from Mr. Floyd’s neck, millions of Americans raised their voices in a call to end the systemic racism that has choked the life out of black men, women and children since before our nation’s founding.

The brutal and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others has catapulted our country into a critical conversation about racial injustice and inequity that demands answers to a myriad of questions now. 

With George Floyd now at rest, we, at Gary Community Investments, (GCI) ask ourselves this: What can we do to help him rest in peace? 

Indeed, until we dismantle the insidious web of racial injustice that has constrained black progress, there can be no peace. As a result, our work at GCI is even more important and urgent.

For over 40 years, our founder Sam Gary has made it his life’s mission to apply private sector resources and expertise to the larger problems of poverty, unequal opportunity and urban decay in an effort to improve the lives of Colorado’s children and families.

It’s why GCI, which includes the Piton Foundation, is just as committed now to bringing the business and nonprofit sectors together to create equitable opportunity for the Coloradans who have been held down the most by poverty. Due to the systematic structures of racism and oppression, this has often included members of the black community.

We know this moment requires action, and we are committed to the following:

At GCI we are currently re-evaluating all our strategies and areas of focus for our final 15-year sprint to sunset, and we commit to doing that with an eye toward how we can support organizations and initiatives that help build black leaders and communities. 

Even before this most recent crisis, we had committed to a process of listening to and partnering with communities of color about how and where we can best support their success. That means giving more leaders of color a seat at our decision-making table, whether that be on our staff, our leadership team, our community advisory board, or our board of directors.

And most of all, we commit to not looking away from this crisis even after the TV cameras turn off. That means being transparent about where we’re making progress and where we’re falling short as we rely on the voices of black leaders to help us create impact. And we will ask you, as partners in this work, to hold us accountable to that mission.  

We know that none of these efforts will bring George Floyd or our fellow Coloradans Marvin Booker, Michael Marshall and Jessie Hernandez back to their families and friends. But we do hope it will help honor the lives that they lived to know that we’re doing what we can to lift the oppressive knee off the necks of their brothers and sisters, and march shoulder to shoulder with our black neighbors who demand and deserve justice and change.