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In the Wake of Parkland, Young People Are Leading the Charge Against Gun Violence. Philanthropy Should Follow Suit

March 13, 2018   |   Brian Malte

On February 14, 17 young people and adults were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Hours later David Hogg, a student at the school, made an impassioned plea on national television: “Please! We are the children. You guys are like… adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics, and get something done.”

The response was swift and strong.

Within a week of the shooting, the students had launched a movement and planned days of action in the nation’s capital and across the country. From school walk outs across Florida to a CNN town hall with legislators, the Parkland students are making their voices heard where it counts. And they’re not alone. Students across the country are speaking out and demanding change. In San Francisco, students at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts — which recently faced its own lockdown — created SF Students #NeverAgain, a Facebook page to unite students throughout the city to address all forms of gun violence.

The heartbreaking truth is gun violence impacts young lives in every community in America. Every day, 19 kids are killed or injured by guns. The vast majority of these senseless deaths aren’t connected to school shootings. More commonly, it’s when guns are paired with street violence, domestic violence and suicide that young lives are cut short and families and communities are torn apart.

After a tragedy like Parkland, the focus tends to be on federal policy change to stop mass shootings. But we must also work together to lift up new voices and elevate community-based solutions that can be replicated across the country. And we must address all forms of gun violence — including suicide, domestic violence and community violence.

At this moment in time when communities across the country are speaking out, philanthropy has an important role to play. I’m proud to say that a diverse group of funders in California are rising to the challenge.

For the last two years, Hope and Heal Fund has partnered with gun violence prevention leaders from across the state to explore solutions to the gun violence epidemic. In the wake of the Parkland tragedy and the students’ call for action, we recently convened our partners and allies to provide a sustainable learning space and gain insights on how we can advance gun violence prevention research and lift up community strategies that work.

We’re building on the momentum created by young leaders across the country and we want you to join us. Here are a few ways that foundations and donors can get involved in the weeks ahead:

Let’s make this a turning point in our fight to stop the gun violence epidemic.

Brian Malte is the Executive Director of the Hope and Heal Fund, a philanthropy working to end gun violence in California.

Photo Credit: Greg Bartlett @shinyfilms