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CultureSep 03, 2020

An Open Letter to the Kids of Northwest Community Center

Maina Musa

Credera’s ongoing mission is to make an extraordinary impact on our clients, our people, and our communities. In terms of social impact for our consulting firm, one of our key partnerships is with a local Dallas organization called Bold Idea. For the 2019-2020 school year, a group of Credera team members mentored students in the community, but the school year was cut short with the global pandemic. In this open letter, Credera’s Bold Idea coordinator, Maina Musa, shares his thoughts on this partnership.

Dear Students of the Northwest Community Center,

Summer 2020 has been quite the wild ride. Sometimes when life is turbulent you take time to reflect. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and my most personally impactful experiences. That inevitably takes me to Credera’s partnership with Bold Idea and how I spent some time with you all every week during the previous school year. Getting to see you learn and grow is one of the things I’m most proud of.

So I’m writing you this note to thank you for such positive memories and to remind you that your mentor team believes in you. Looking back on it, it’s hard to imagine just how much has happened over the last year or so.

In summer 2019, Jason Goth and I started collaborating with Bold Idea to see if Credera could give back by mentoring through Bold Idea’s program, but I had no idea it would turn into something where we received way more than we gave. I love meeting and learning from people with different perspectives and backgrounds.

When we first heard about you, we learned that you were from all over the world and this really excited us. As a first-generation American with a name that is routinely mispronounced, I loved seeing a room full of immigrants learning how to code. One of my favorite moments was the coding break where students and mentors alike went around speaking our different languages. Seeing so many of your faces light up when my co-captain Amanda Bsaibes spoke Lebanese and several of you realized you understood that dialect of Arabic would make anyone’s heart smile.

You collectively represent so much of what Credera strives to be: Joyful. Diverse. Problem solvers. Hilarious. Intelligent. Good dancers. Fun-loving. Supportive.

You also represent some of those people who are most vulnerable during this pandemic. Though we are unable to be there in that orange painted room, our thoughts, prayers, and hopes are with you. It goes without saying that we’re looking forward to when we can be there with you again. But in the meantime, we will focus on the shared goal of keeping our communities safe and healthy.

I know that many of you face hardships most of us cannot even imagine. Just before this time when so much has gone digital you learned valuable computer science skills, but that doesn’t mean you always have all the tools you need in this new landscape. This can pose a new hardship to navigate.

If you are facing new struggles, we understand they can feel daunting. Know you are immensely powerful. You always have been and continue to be valued by your family and community as well as by us, your mentor team. Black and brown folks like us are not always told in an explicit manner how fantastic we are. Sometimes we’re stuck only with the many implicit messages to the contrary. Many of those negative messages have had a light shone on them these last several months, revealing the truth that the terrible injustices of racism in America cannot be ignored. Let this serve as an unambiguous message of your worth, power, and value.

During this time, I remain grateful for the deep blessings in my life:

Thank you to Credera for support from all levels including entry-level consultants to chief executive officer and chief technology officer who care about the social impact of our consulting firm.

Thank you to Bold Idea for introducing us to the community center and giving us all the tools necessary to successfully connect with and mentor a great group of students.

Most importantly, thank you to the kids we miss so much at Northwest Community Center. Thank you for tackling complex computer science topics with us, thank you for being your authentic selves, and thank you for opening space in your hearts for us. You have taken up residence in our hearts.  

Signed with the utmost respect,

Maina Philip Musa

P.S. To anyone who resonated with this, I encourage you to:

1. Educate yourself:

  • Language barriers and a lack of internet access could cause inequities to widen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The technology in most of their homes consists of a smartphone or portable tablet, and most educational systems are not compatible with those particular devices.

  • In Colorado, children in households lacking internet are disproportionately Hispanic and from lower-income families.

  • The students who were struggling are now falling further behind because they have less support.

2. Get involved:

  • Give time and resources to Black Girls Code.

  • Find a Big Brothers Big Sisters program to volunteer with.

  • If you’re a college student, find a way to participate in College Mentors for Kids.

  • And of course, join Bold Idea in their mission to mentor and teach computer science—or find an organization near you to help support and lift up kids that can most use that encouragement.