As part of our strategy to mitigate the conditions that contribute to youth violence, the City is investing $221,400 this summer in programs focused on violence prevention. COVID-19 has deprived our young people of many traditional outlets for interpersonal contact and social interaction. Social isolation has exacerbated mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. This can have a disproportionate impact on low-income youth and youth of color. Below are four youth violence prevention strategies recruited and approved by my office for funding this summer. The funding will provide contracted agencies with the means to expand employment opportunities for youth and deliver violence prevention programs throughout the summer and fall.
Living Parks 2022
Parks Alive is a collaborative effort between multiple city departments and involves a wide variety of community stakeholders and mobile resources. These 31 events, which will take place in eight parks, will provide opportunities for residents to gather and build relationships. The events will provide a structure that residents can replicate and begin to develop the potential for neighborhood-led events in the future. These events will also provide a foundation that, in years to come, can become a strategy that includes intentional resident leadership development, identification and support of “credible messengers”, opportunities to build skills in conflict interruption and mediation, as well as many other violence prevention strategies that rely on trusting relationships between residents, local government and other stakeholders.
Youth will be directly engaged and paid to help plan and implement activities at Parks Alive events in their neighborhood. CDD will work directly with neighborhood youth service providers to engage their youth participants (most of whom ideally live in the neighborhood near the park) to develop an activity to lead, something to perform, plan food/snacks to distribute, host an art station, or gather feedback/ideas from other young and adult residents about neighborhood conditions and desires.
TRY to transform and reach our youth
The TRY Program Initiative is a program created by Dr. Marcus Allen, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The purpose of this summer program is to inspire, motivate and encourage young people aged 12 to 17 and aims to re-engage young people in a different way by providing opportunities for mentorship, employment and education. This program will allow mentors to develop meaningful relationships with young people and have a positive impact in their lives. It will also give them the tools to help them make better choices to stay on track. The goal is to demonstrate to young people that if they TRY, they will discover positive results.
The program will serve 25-30 youth, engaging with different community leaders each day, and is supported by a partnership with Greater Madison Urban League, Anesis Therapy and Madison Roots, LLC. The aim is to give young people a vision of what they can aspire to become. Weekly activities include: group therapy sessions, financial literacy classes, community service projects, sports camps and other activities to improve educational awareness. Staff also intend to engage with parents on a weekly basis to provide support and resources as needed.
Dear Diary Mentoring
Dear Diary is a mentorship program for black girls to rewrite the broken narrative of black youth and femininity. Dear Diary, Inc. offers free programming for black girls in high school (grades 9-12), including those in the justice system, that provides support, guidance, and love using strategically designed mentoring services in the areas of 1) self-esteem, 2) academic achievement, 3) personal development, 4) professional excellence, 5) family commitment and 6) serving. Currently, Dear Diary, Inc. supports all of Dane County with specific interest and key neighborhood recruiting goals.
This summer and fall, Dear Diary, Inc. will host The Black Girl Experience for juniors and seniors as part of the program to provide them with real-world work experience and training in a variety of professional settings of their choice. The girls will spend 6 weeks developing their professional portfolios while simultaneously working alongside Madison professionals who are currently in their area of interest. Each week, the girls will start and end their week by learning about black women through history, and armed with this knowledge, they will make a plan for their future; including but not limited to professional portfolios, professional portraits and academic planning.
Additionally, they will participate in professional Black women’s roundtables, learn financial literacy, receive academic tutoring and support, make new friendships, and develop their personal and professional brand. The remaining days of the week, they will be “in the field”, working in their area of interest through an internship co-created with us and local businesses and organizations in Madison. Each of them will receive a stipend for their work, as well as high school credit and a certificate of employment. Finally, Dear Diary, Inc. will end the Black Girl experience with a trip to Washington DC to visit the African American History Museum, further inspiring and motivating the girls.
Seeing is believing
Seeing is believing is an annual summer outreach program dedicated to introducing young people to professional, academic and personal leadership opportunities right in their backyards, focusing on young black and brown men ages 13-24. Seein’ is Believin’ also provides mental health protective factors throughout the summer through town hall meetings, career fairs, scavenger hunts and obstacle courses that challenge the world. mind, body and soul of young people.
This program focuses on the factors that can put individuals at risk of becoming involved in crime. The activities of this program encourage the meaningful participation of individuals in all parts of the project. Examples include conflict resolution courses, skills-building training groups, and intergenerational projects where community elders share their knowledge and traditions with young people.
I am very grateful to the members of the community who have stepped up to support our young people through this unique and inventive programming, whether as leaders of these programs, partner organizations, supportive neighbors or volunteers currently recruited to support these programs. . We cannot do this work without you, and again, I thank President Biden for the ARPA funds that make this programming possible.
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