The Boston Foundation has announced a $5 million commitment to StreetSafe Boston – a public-private partnership designed to reduce violent crime by 10 percent among 16- to 24-year-olds in five Boston neighborhoods. The new initiative will involve at-risk youth in community programs and services during out-of-school hours, create a “culture of safety” in the neighborhoods, and build partnerships among police, nonprofits, and city and community leaders.
“It’s the largest commitment of funds to the most difficult-to-work-with group that I’ve ever seen,” Emmett Folgert, head of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, one of StreetSafe’s community partners, told The Boston Globe. “The focus population is quite small, and the amount of resources is high, so there is a good chance of success here.”
In the initial phase of the StreetSafe initiative, the Boston Ten Point Coalition will train 25 street workers, or “violence interrupters,” hired by the city to engage approximately 2,000 youth at risk of committing violent offenses. For the first time, a criminal record will not automatically disqualify applicants for the street worker positions. Such experiences are thought to give street workers more credibility with youth already caught up in the throes of violence.
In phase two, the initiative will extend its service hours beyond nights and weekends and expand its services to include job training. The mission of StreetSafe’s programs would broaden to include about 4,000 nonviolent but at-risk youth, such as dropouts, drug dealers, pregnant teens and runaways.
A crime analysis by experts at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government found that the 1 percent of Boston’s youth population living in the five targeted neighborhoods was driving more than 50 percent of youth violence citywide. The neighborhoods are:
• The Dudley Square area in Roxbury.
• The Grove Hall area in Roxbury.
• South End/Lower Roxbury.
• Morton and Norfolk streets in Dorchester.
• Bowdoin Street and Geneva Avenue in Dorchester.
The Boston Foundation’s $5 million (at $1 million per year over five years) only partially funds the $26 million StreetSafe initiative; fundraising is under way. A comprehensive website provides maps, crime statistics, links to StreetSafe partners and information on how to donate to the initiative.
Contact: The Boston Foundation/StreetSafe Boston, http://www.tbf.org/Content.aspx?ID=9398, (617) 338-1700.