Celebrating Black History Month & More

February 11, 2021

Black History Month is a time to celebrate influential leaders and impactful moments of the past. But celebrating Black history is not enough. Pocono Mountains United Way continues to work toward a future where Black Americans have the same access to employment, education, health care and housing as their white neighbors.

As part of that work, below we highlight an important moment from Black history that aligns with our focus areas of health, education, and financial stability, outline a few current challenges faced by Black Americans, and explain what we are doing to help solve these problems.

Moment in History

April 23, 1951: 16-year-old Barbara Rose Johns leads a strike to protest segregation and poor conditions at her Virginia high school. Her leadership inspires local lawyers to sue the federal government, a case that eventually becomes part of the landmark Brown v. Board decision.

Current Challenges

The Supreme Court ruled school segregation was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. But segregation in public schools has only risen since 1996. This kind of structural racism along with institutional racism has hurt the educational outcomes of Black students.

  • The graduation rate for Black students (79%) is lower than the national average.
  • Schools with 90% or more students of color receive $733 less per student.
  • Only 57% of Black students have access to the full range of math and science courses needed for college-readiness.
  • More than 70% of Black students were learning remotely in fall 2020, compared to 40% of white students.

We established the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, that works to support students of color in our community. With partners, we have successfully offered Cultural Competency training sessions, that community members, law enforcement and business leaders attended. The training sessions foster courageous conversations around race, including implicit biases and microaggressions.

Our work includes:

  • Fighting for improved access to health care coverage
  • Supporting students through graduation by providing scholarships
  • Providing free tax preparation services for middle- and low-income families
  • Building pipelines for Black leadership and businesses in our community
  • Supporting our Black community members

You can be a part of this important work in Monroe County and celebrate Black History. You can demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion by using the email sign up on this page to learn how you can give, advocate or volunteer to ensure that every single person, no matter their race, can thrive in our community.

To learn more about our DEI work, or sign on as a partner on the path to racial equity, please contact Michael@PoconoUnitedWay.org