Our hearts go out to the Parkland Community as it mourns the loss of its 17 students and educators who were murdered in the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. No community should have to experience this trauma and the loss of its children and educators to such a senseless act of violence.

The voices in response to this mass shooting are eloquent, strong and clear-eyed — and unapologetically youth led. These youth leaders exhibit Mikva Challenge‚Äôs best hopes and aspirations as a champion of action civics. The strength of their voice and activism is what we want to see on any issue of importance to them, including those as somber as gun violence.

For too long, our young people in Chicago and in urban centers across the country have had to cope with devastating rates of gun violence in their communities, and we agree with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student leaders that the time is now to find solutions to this violence epidemic in our country.

We often hear our students calling for action on gun violence with power and eloquence. Take a moment to listen to Mikva Challenge DC student LaShawn Massenberg speak on the horrors of gun violence in her community.

At Mikva Challenge, we witness the courage of young people like Lashawn speaking out to change their communities every day. They have unique insights, skills, creativity and fierce idealism. When given the opportunity, we know they can be the catalysts for solving our toughest civic and social problems.

As an organization, we commit to elevating the voices of young leaders in our sites in Chicago, Washington, DC and Southern California and in classrooms across the country as they work to take action to end gun violence. We also commit to elevating the voices of this new movement born from tragedy that the courageous students in Parkland are helping lead. To that end, we will work to connect young activists across the country who are speaking out and taking action, and we will provide the hundreds of educators in our network with information and resources to support their student activists.

We must as a nation not become numb to the gun violence that has plagued our nation for too long. We thank our youth leaders for their efforts to awaken us and end adult complacency, and we look forward to supporting these young people to make real change on this issue.

Brian Brady – President
Michelle Morales – Chief Executive Officer, Greater Chicago Area
Robyn Lingo – Executive Director, Mikva Challenge DC