On Friday, February 26, HCN Executive Director, Dr. April Y. Silas was interviewed on the NBC Bay Area evening news as part of a segment on reinvesting in the Black community in San Francisco.
In the segment, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President, Shamann Walton spoke about the need for investment in the Black community. Mayor London Breed's office announced last week the "Dream Keeper Initiative" to improve outcomes for Black families in the city. The initiative will be funded over the next two years by money diverted from the San Francisco Police Department budget to Black-serving organizations such as Homeless Children's Network.
During her full conversation with NBC news, Dr. Silas shared that Black people in San Francisco make up a small portion of the overall population, but make up a majority of the homeless population. Families and children are among the most vulnerable. “These little ones are at risk in ways that we can see in ways that we cannot. It’s no small thing to be in the midst of the most vulnerable developmental stages of one’s young life while experiencing racism and trauma on a daily basis,” explained Dr. Silas.
Dr. Silas emphasized the importance of community engagement and unifying Black community voices. During her interview with NBC news, she spoke about a few of the aspects of the Dream Keepers Initiative she loves. “One of the many powerful qualities of the Dream Keepers Initiative is that it’s the combination of insight, vision, lived experience, strategy, and ideas born specifically from those of us in the Black community,” she said.
According to Dr. Silas, the best part of the Dream Keeper’s Initiative is that it involves every voice in the Black community including, “the full age spectrum, housed and unhoused, every facet of our interest and expertise, from policy to direct service, including lived experiences and ideas that have only grown stronger through the test of time.”
With support from the Initiative, Dr. Silas plans to continue the expansion of HCN’s Ma’at program. Ma’at is a holistic therapeutic community, in which Black clinicians center and work with Black/African American families in San Francisco. Additionally, Dr. Silas is excited to continue her work reaching more Black LGBTQ+ youth and families with HCN’s partner, LGBTQ-Soul of Pride.
Dr. Silas said she is honored to be “among the community visionaries who are leading San Francisco into a new era of Black empowerment including Mayor Breed, President Walton, and Director Sheryl Davis.”
The Black experience consists of diverse experiences. Dr. Silas continued to say that, “We carry within us every spectrum of expression. We are every size, color, opinion, affiliation and sensibility. Here in San Francisco, through the Dream Keepers Initiative, which is being facilitated by the phenomenal Dr. Davis, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission, we have witnessed the full circle sense of empowerment that can only come from our people working together.”
For Dr. Silas and HCN, the Dream Keeper’s Initiative means more Black families in San Francisco can get the help and support they deserve.