Erik Estrada & Dr. Howard Stevenson
Forward Promise
Erik Estrada brings more than 15 years of public service experience to his role at Forward Promise, including experiences working in philanthropy, municipal government, and public education.

Most recently, Estrada was a program officer at the Andrus Family Fund (AFF), a youth-focused fund of the Surdna Foundation, where he was responsible for both career pathways and direct service initiatives that supported young people impacted by the foster care and the juvenile justice system. Prior to joining AFF, Estrada held multiple roles at New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), a statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). More recently, as a project officer, he managed NJHI’s research and evaluation initiatives, which included the commissioning of white papers and feasibility studies to support various field-building efforts. Primarily responsible for youth-focused and capacity-building initiatives, as project coordinator, Estrada helped develop and implement technical assistance initiatives to support grantees in meeting their program goals and objectives.

Dr. Howard Stevenson is the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education, Professor of Africana Studies, and former Chair of the Applied Psychology and Human Development Division in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. His research publications and clinical work involve developing culturally relevant, "in-the-moment," strengths-based measures and therapeutic interventions that teach emotional and racial literacy skills to families and youth, and have been funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, and the National Institutes of Mental Health and Child Health and Human Development.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation / Forward Promise

The narrative of inferiority and dangerousness that justified the dehumanization of boys and young men of color in our country’s past continues to frame their legacy, potential, and health in present-day America. This narrative portrays them not as someone’s child, brother, uncle or dad, but as threats to life and safety--as someone to be feared. This reality is traumatizing for boys and young men of color, not only in how they see themselves and their peers, but also in how they are treated by people they face every day. The emotional, physical, and relational consequences of this trauma can be seen on the streets, in businesses, in schools, on job sites and in the criminal justice system, among other places. As we have become painfully aware, without challenging that narrative, we will be less able to alter its lethal consequences.

Forward Promise seeks to create spaces, resources and professional support to practitioners, to help boys and young men of color heal from the historical and present-day trauma; to help them grow and advocate for themselves in ways that reduce the effects of inferiority narratives; to facilitate their opportunities to thrive and more fully contribute and lead in their communities and the world. We must keep the promises we make to all of our children, brothers, and fathers of color--that we will affirm their humanity, protect them from the traumas, empower their voices, and hold accountable the systems that rely consciously or unconsciously on this narrative of dehumanization. The health of our children, our communities and our country is at stake.