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GFFE Grant Focuses on Equality in Our Justice System

Updated: May 27, 2021

The Guilford Fund for Education is thrilled to announce our first grant of the 2020-21 academic year awarded to Guilford High School’s Language Arts Teacher, Heather Bradley, that will benefit the entire Freshman class. Heather’s proposal includes the book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson and a speaker from a representative from the Equal Justice Initiative. “Just Mercy” not only highlights social justice issues among Black and Latino people, it also captures the challenges faced by the incarcerated in the United States. The essence of the true story illustrates the power of mercy.

This grant will challenge our Guilford youth, bringing an experience that is far from most and creating a forum for discussion around justice, racial and economic inequality and the impact of grace.

Read more about the book here

Below is an excerpt from the Guilford Courier about a Letter to the Editor written by an inspired GHS student. This was entirely the student’s response to her experience after reading “Just Mercy” and then hearing the speaker. This is a clear illustration of how our grants have impacted Guilford youth this year:

I’m a 15 year old student who attends Guilford High School (GHS) and is grateful to the Guilford Public School system and the Guilford Fund for Education for their grant to bring into my English class Mr. Rodney Roberts. He had been wrongly convicted, jailed for almost 20 years, then exonerated after DNA testing proved his innocence. My freshman English class is now more aware of the criminal justice system and its flaws. I am a proud GHS student, grateful that our teachers and community care enough to fund these inspiring, possibly life-changing events.

I have never come across a prisoner, not to mention hear them talk about their lives. Growing up in a small town, you might not realize the outside world past your friends house and supermarket. Roberts’s story was filled with hope, passion, chaos, frustration, and determination. I got choked up when he told us about the judge sentencing him to years in prison, despite all the evidence of his innocence. He told us about his life being taken away from him, yet his tone was never bitter, but hopeful. This experience showed me that one can still have resilience and determination even when facing the worst of life’s storms. When asked what young people can do to help, Mr. Roberts said, “You can be the judges, the impartial jury members, the prison guards, the social workers!” He is right. The first step is awareness. It is an experience like this, along with the books we read and the essays we write, that will help us be better equipped to bring about real change in the world around us.

Taylor Barberio



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