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Community Support for Youth Safety

Mayor Victoria Woodards and Tacoma City Council Urge Community Support for Youth Safety


July 21, 2020



Tanisha Jumper, Media and Communications,tjumper@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-5152
Maria Lee, Media and Communications, maria.lee@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-2054


Mayor Victoria Woodards and Tacoma City Council Urge Community Support for Youth Safety


TACOMA, Wash. -- As Tacoma faces a projected loss of approximately 4,000 summer program slots that provide youth with safe and supportive spaces, a community coalition that includes the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, Graduate Tacoma and other supporters have developed guidance that centers on four basic principles of how Tacoma can support youth this summer and beyond. They are calling on individuals and organizations across the city to commit to making Tacoma safer and more welcoming for youth through pledging to uphold and promote these four principles:

1. Create and nurture welcoming environments.
2. Stop, listen and engage with youth.
3. Check your emotions and biases against Black and Brown youth.
4. Give grace for the unknown.

“When members of our community are faced with hardship and uncertainty, the people of Tacoma come together and support one another. During these historic times, many of us feel compelled to show up and make a difference,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards. “This is our opportunity, as Compassionate Tacoma, to show our youth that their sense of safety is important to us, that they truly matter, and that we are willing to take action during this period of tremendous change to demonstrate that.” 

As a result of systemic racism, Black and Brown community members are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, both in public health and financial wellbeing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, households of color are disproportionately experiencing widespread financial insecurity and rising unemployment. This leaves these families less likely to be able to provide alternatives to the traditional summer programming that have been cancelled. At the same time, experiences of daily racism are common for our Black and Brown youth. A 2019 study following 101 Black teens in Washington, D.C. showed that these teens experienced racism an average of five times a day.  

“Our youth are often misunderstood and sometimes seen as suspicious when they are passing time in public spaces. These misconceptions are especially common when the dynamic of race comes into play,” said Mayor Woodards. “The City Council and I want all Tacoma youth to feel safe and supported, even given the program reductions that have become necessary during COVID-19. We join Graduate Tacoma and other community leaders in calling on every member of the community to join us in ensuring that Tacoma is welcoming for our young people by making this commitment and following through on its principles.”

The number of lost summer program slots is projected to grow as more information is gathered about the challenges medium- and smaller-sized organizations are experiencing.

“As our youth – including our Black and Brown youth who are particularly vulnerable – lose much needed access to those programs that have traditionally provided them with summer programming and resources, the Tacoma City Council and I stand alongside Tacoma’s leaders in the business, education, human services and government sectors in urging others across Tacoma to support the Community Commitment for Safe Youth,” said Mayor Woodards. 

The Community Commitment for Safe Youth dovetails with the Compassionate Tacoma initiative, which Mayor Woodards launched in March 2020. The Compassionate Tacoma initiative was founded in the belief that all individuals have the power to make Tacoma a more welcoming, connected, resilient and vibrant community by listening to and serving others with love. 

In addition to committing to take actions to make Tacoma a safe, welcoming space for youth, those who pledge their support for the Community Commitment for Safe Youth will receive a free window decal that displays their commitment.