Happy New Year!
This month represents my one-year anniversary at the helm of GOSO as President and CEO. I remember this time last year being overjoyed about the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and contribute to GOSO’s mission to create new pathways for young men impacted by arrest and incarceration.
But almost as soon as 2020 got underway, we began hearing reports about a little-understood virus that quickly became the global pandemic we know today as COVID-19. With normal life being totally upended, I was—and continue to be—awestruck at how the GOSO team and our partners rose to the occasion. In the face of social distancing, quarantines, economic insecurity, and global unrest over systemic racism, we soldiered on—keeping our doors open, supporting participants, and doubling down on our job placement efforts.
Over the past year, we have taken a deeper look at our work, and how we can effect change on both the micro- and macro-level. An important piece of this is ensuring that our mission accurately reflects our work and how it fits in with the systemic social justice issues of our time. I’m proud to kick off 2021 with an official announcement of our refreshed Vision and Mission statements:
Our Vision: A world where neither a person’s race nor contact with the legal system determines their future.
Our Mission: GOSO partners with people impacted by arrest and incarceration on a journey of education, employment and emotional wellbeing and collaborates with NYC communities to support a culture of nonviolence.
Now is the time to meet the moment and make our voice heard on the issue of systemic racism. Because our programs and services touch the lives of so many Black and Latinx men, we understand the challenges they face all too well. What’s more, we know that meaningful, broad-based change will not happen without confronting racism at the policy level and committing ourselves to finding alternatives to incarceration.
To this end, in the months ahead, you can expect more from GOSO in the way of advocacy at the policy level, thought leadership focused on how we can end the vicious cycle of mass incarceration, and partnerships with like-minded criminal justice reform advocates. We understand that changing people’s lives means we have to elevate our voice around issues affecting our participants.
In addition to the important new initiatives we have in the pipeline, we’ll be moving into a new office space in East Harlem to expand our services. We are also expanding our network of small business and corporate partners that want to provide internship and employment opportunities to the men in our program. And programmatically, we’ll be looking to bring in more participants who need—but may not be aware of—our services.
I look forward to working together in 2021 and beyond!
Dr. Jocelynne Rainey
President and CEO, GOSO