Dear STAY Project Community,
We hope this finds you warm and well this solstice season! We are closing in on the end of the decade, having finished out a year that has been one of the most impactful and powerful years thus far in our existence as an organization. From flanking the first-ever Black Appalachian Young & Rising gathering to creating our member support fund to building strong relationships in Alabama, in 2019 the STAY Project expanded and grew our programming and reach while remaining focused on what we do best–– creating spaces for young people to build relationships, learn, access resources and tools, and empower each other to be leaders in Appalachia.
In July, we brought youth together from across Central and Southern Appalachia in the mountains of Southwest Virginia for our 10th STAY Summer Institute.
In the heat of the late Appalachian summer we sang together, ate plenty of good food, looked at the stars, and reveled in a weekend full of laughs and love as we practiced making liberatory space.
This fall, we made history with the first ever regional gathering specifically for black youth in the Appalachian region. The Black Appalachian Young and Rising gathering was coordinated by and for black youth in the region to come together to celebrate the joy of coming together, to examine and discuss the black Appalachian identity, and most importantly to begin forming a strategy for addressing the critical lack of black youth leadership in our region. We are excited that this year we have been able to be true in our commitment to uplifting, supporting, and trusting the leadership of black youth.
We are ending this year with a renewed momentum to continue our fight for liberation into a new decade. As the STAY Project looks forward into 2020, a year in which we know Appalachia will once again come into the national spotlight, we want to be ready for what comes our way. We want to be flexible to move and change where it is necessary, we want to keep leveraging support for and flanking Black youth, we want to keep flexing our creative and cultural power through music and art, we want to keep building alliances across the South, we want to keep moving money and resources to young people trying to create change in their communities, we want to keep exercising our power to invest in ourselves, we want to keep creating revolutionary space. We cannot do this alone.
For over a decade, the love from a community that believes in youth-led work has made the STAY Project’s work possible. Thanks to y’all’s love and support in 2019, we were able to grow in ways we had only dreamed about. In 2020 we want to sustain our growth and keep dreaming about what is possible. We are asking that you please consider making a donation of $50, $100, or whatever you can afford to help STAY continue our mission of empowering youth to make their communities places they can and want to stay, as well as continuing to provide life changing spaces and opportunities for youth throughout the Appalachian region.
Invest in Appalachia's future, invest in Appalachia's present by making a gift to STAY!
Love & kinship & solidarity,
Lou Murrey & Mekyah Davis,
On behalf of the Stay Together Appalachian Youth Project
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