Schumer: Reducing Gang Violence Is Critical To Keeping Our Neighborhoods Safe and Protecting Our Youth

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Department of Justice has awarded $473,788 to Family Services of Westchester under the FY 2009 Gang Prevention Youth Mentoring Program.  These funds will be used to establish mentoring programs for youth at risk of gang activity, delinquency, and violence.     


"Gang violence is one of the most destructive forces in our cities and towns, and this program is an excellent preventative tool to help reduce the influence of these forces on our communities," Schumer said. "These funds for Westchester will help our kids develop the strong values and character necessary to say 'no' to gang related activities.  I will continue to fight for federal funds to help support programs that reduce crime and the influence of gangs in our neighborhoods."


Family Services of Westchester, through its GPS mentoring program, will use the grant to reduce risk of gang involvement, violence and delinquency among highrisk youth ages 1015 in Mount Vernon. This effort will match 120 youth with adult mentors who will establish and sustain Big Brother/Big Sister relationships.  Additionally, GPS will conduct peer groups with activities to build communication, conflict resolution, decisionmaking, other life skills, including mock trial curriculum designed for highrisk youth.  Finally, they will use the grant to support families through case management and parent workshops to help youth reach goals.


In addition to the federally mandated performance measures, GPS will collect and report data on the number of GPS program staff trained, number of partners attending Advisory Council meetings, number of Advisory Council meetings, numbers of youth referred by referral source, number of assessments completed, numbers of Individual Action Plans developed, numbers of mentors screened, mentors trained and the total hours of training attended, numbers of matches made; and followup contacts made with mentors, mentees and parents/family members documented, and numbers of peer groups attended by youth participants.


The Gang Prevention Youth Mentoring Program is administered by the Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).  With this grant, communities can establish mentoring programs that offer a mixture of core services (such as life skills and psychoeducational training, mentalhealth counseling, job placement, communityservice projects, and structured afterschool recreational, educational, and artistic/culturally enhancing activities) and engage youth with activities that enable them to practice healthy behaviors within a positive prosocial peer group. The target population should be youth at risk of gang activity, delinquency, and youth violence. This program will develop and strengthen protective factors against gang involvement and other problem behaviors. It can be based in a school or community setting.


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