Over the past month, I have used the word “unprecedented” more times than I can count. That is because I did not know how to fully explain what was happening to our world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even still, unprecedented did not feel like a strong enough word.

I found myself angry, scared, anxious, hopeful, overwhelmed, uneasy, and even happy. I ran through a range of emotions in one day that challenged what I thought I knew about my mental health and well-being. There were many moments of despair but also many moments of jubilation—particularly when I witnessed the best of humanity rising up to lead our communities through the darkest of times.

I witnessed these very acts in our Forward Promise grantees. We first held a teleconference with them to assess their needs as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19 on their organizations and their communities. We followed up that call with a survey and an ongoing series of interviews to gain first-hand knowledge of the emerging challenges they are facing, as well as the solutions they developed to address some of those challenges. Overwhelmingly, grantees shared that the COVID-19 crisis is rapidly exposing the deep inequities that have existed within communities of color for generations—both for the youth and families that they serve and for the organizations themselves. The history and consequences of being denied healthcare, good schools, access to food, paid leave, fair wages, and other social supports is being magnified as the pandemic continues to unfold in their communities.

Our grantees organizations acknowledge the challenges presented to their communities and are shifting their resources, processes, and service delivery methods to mitigate the impact. Click here to read the solutions they have developed in order to remain on the frontlines to serve boys and young men of color and their villages. The actions taken by our grantees will make a profound difference in how well communities of color will emerge on the other side of this crisis.