Attorney General Eric Holder and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Mary Lou Leary today announced that four new cities would join a White House initiative to prevent youth violence. New Orleans, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Camden, N.J., will join the six original cities in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention (Forum) to reduce youth violence and gang activity and improve public safety.
New Orleans, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Camden, N.J., join Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., Salinas, Calif., and San Jose, Calif.
“Children involved in violent crime have often been exposed to violence, either as victims or witnesses, and we must do everything in our power to end that cycle,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The purpose of this forum is to bring together community and faith-based organizations, law enforcement, public health professionals as well as business and philanthropic leaders to work together toward a common goal: stopping youth and gang violence.”
Launched in 2010 at the direction of President Obama, the forum is a network of communities and federal agencies that share information and support local efforts to prevent and reduce youth violence.
“Youth violence is not a problem any of us can solve alone, but by working together – by pooling resources and ideas – we have the ability to reduce youth violence in our communities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Leary.
The 10 cities will participate in a working session this fall and highlight their strategies to address youth violence at a national summit in Washington, D.C., next spring. The new cities were selected through a competitive application process. The six original cities are Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Memphis, Tenn.; Salinas, Calif.; and San Jose, Calif.
“As education and civic leaders, keeping kids safe is key to preparing them for healthy, happy, successful futures in school and beyond,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Spreading community-led efforts to reduce youth violence will enable children to live up to their fullest potential while also contributing to greater safety and prosperity for everyone within those communities, and for our entire nation.”
Since the forum began, the cities have leveraged new partnerships with foundations and private corporations to prevent youth violence and have initiated a number of programs for youth and families in their communities. Earlier this year, Casey Family Programs sponsored activities for forum youth representatives at the national summit in Washington, D.C. Additionally, retail company Target awarded grants of $10,000 to the six forum sites to hire a youth director in each community.
The participating cities have also partnered with community organizations, including a partnership in Salinas with a local college for a Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy that served 2,000 students this past summer. And, in San Jose, the city started a media training program for area youth that enables young people to interview leaders in their community.
The forum’s federal partners include the Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Labor; the Corporation for National and Community Service; and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
For more information on the cities’ plans and progress, please visit: http://www.findyouthinfo.gov/youth-topics/preventing-youth-violence.