Commemorating Juneteenth

To Our Manufacturing Community,

As we take a pause today to recognize and observe June 19th, or Juneteenth, long-celebrated by Black and African-American communities as the 155-year commemoration of the end of slavery, this day comes at an incredible time of reflection and reckoning in our nation’s history. 
The ongoing brutalities and injustices we’ve witnessed are unconscionable to those of us who have experienced a recent awakening to horrific acts of racism and hate. To the Black community, this is all too common and all too exhausting. 
It is apparent that Black individuals are overrepresented in the criminal justice arena and wholly underrepresented when it comes to avenues of opportunity. Our role at Catalyst Connection is to connect accessible, continuous, and high-value opportunities to our region’s Black communities. We work to address manufacturing’s skilled worker shortage through our REAL Jobs program in the context of prioritizing social, racial, and income disparities across the Pittsburgh region. Additionally, our outreach programs advance entry-level workers, particularly Black people and people of color, and provide educational opportunities for middle and high school youth, with a focus on students of color.  
We’ve been listening and learning, taking account of the racial privileges and pain that exist within our region’s manufacturing communities and within our own organization. We have embarked on a path to continue working with our region’s manufacturers to solve skilled workforce shortages while simultaneously advancing and elevating Black people and communities. We are also looking inward and examining what shortages and opportunities exist at Catalyst Connection to combat and eliminate all forms of racism and inequity. We are committed to offering support and strategic guidance to manufacturers and partners across the region to address and take action on similar issues internally. 
This work is heavy, but it is necessary, and it requires the collective investments, resources, and actions of our entire community. As we move forward together, we encourage you to explore and share your reflections, learnings, and applications as you respond to this unprecedented time in our shared history as individuals and as organizations. Together, we can fulfill our commitment to building a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable manufacturing community across southwestern Pennsylvania. 
Petra Mitchell 
Catalyst Connection