YVP Working Groups
Overview & Purpose
Youth violence is a complex and systemic challenge, and research shows that a spectrum of strategies are effective contributors to prevention. We also know that most private and public funders have specific funding focus areas, often with a goal that is related to but not specifically targeted at youth violence prevention e.g., family supports, youth development. Finally, we know that it is difficult for individual funders to efficiently identify the most critical funding gaps and needs due to incomplete knowledge. As a result, there can be unnecessary duplication of effort as well as needs that continue to go unmet.
Through working groups focused on an issue or need relating to preventing youth violence in the five target neighborhoods in Boston (South End/Lower Roxbury, Dudley Square, Grove Hall, Bowdoin/Geneva, and Morton & Norfolk Streets), funders with common interests and goals meet 3-4 times per year to share knowledge, learn more about the issue, explore unmet needs and gaps, and identify priority opportunities to strategically align funding to address these needs and gaps.
These Working Groups are:
Family Supports and Mental Health - Based on decades of research on child development, effective prevention and intervention programs for chrilden ages birth to five, and their families, are potentially the most promising approach to reducing violence. National studies report that exposure to community violence increases depression and aggressive behavior among adolescents and can even lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In some Boston communities, at least 80% of youth have been touched by violence, either personally or through a friend or family member. According to a 2007 report, one-in-five students in the Boston Public Schools had witnessed a shooting and two out of every three students had witnessed some form of violence. These children will have trouble learning and achieving in school and the issues they are dealing with might cause them to be disruptive in class and interfere with the learning of other students.
This Working Group will focus on family-based programs and mental health services identified as youth violence prevention strategies by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other national entities.
Youth Development and Mentoring - As described by the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, many violence prevention interventions target young people most at-risk for delinquent or violent behavior. Called a deficit model, this approach works to change the specific behaviors or characteristics that lace youth at risk, such as failing at school, abusing drugs, or engaging in criminal behaviors. Youth development, on the other hand, shifts the focus from problems in an effort to identify, recognize, and build on youth strengths and capacities. The Council on Crime in America has identified mentoring as one of three interlocking crime prevention stratgies. Mentoring reduces crime by providing at-risk youth with positive role models, encouraging community interaction and developing meaningful relationships between youth and caring adults. Successful programs provide training and support to volunteer mentors, so they can mentor at-risk youth in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways. Some programs are implementing intensive mentoring strategies that link inner city youth with adults who have had similar life experiences.
The Youth Development and Mentoring Working Group will focus on strategies that focus on youth strengths and relationships in an effort to help young people become healthy, contributing adults.
Youth Workforce Development and Education - Youth who engage in violent behavior do not have hope for the future. A December 2008 study found that Boston ranked 6th nationally among cities with the sharpest spike in the number of young black males killing one another. One of the report's authors, James Alan Fox, said the findings underscore the need to expand community policing, jobs, and after-school programs. "The choice is ours. We can pay for programs now or pray for the victims later... We need a youth bailout." Workforce development programs can also enable at-risk youth to develop important relationships with caring adults, through mentoring, job shadowing, apprenticeship programs, and other connections. Research on protective factors for youth indicates that strong connections with caring adults can reduce feelings of alienation and association for mainstream society - and thus help to reduce violence and anti-social behavior.
The overall goal of the Youth Workforce Development and Education Working Group is to use a holistic and intergrated approach to preparing youth with demonstrated risk to successfully enter the workforce ad achieve sustainable employment leading toward self-sufficiency.
Composition of Working Groups
- Each working group is co-chaired by one private funder as well as a public funder (City representative).
- Each working group is open to all interested public and private funders, as well as representatives from Boston area businesses.
- Content experts, representatives of key intermediary organizations, youth, and academic partners are serving as resources to the working groups as needed (sharing information, perspective, contacts, etc.)
- Structured faciliation is provided by Root Cause to each working group for coordinating and facilitating meetings, ensuring group decisions and actions are aligned with the Collaborative's mission, vision, and core principles, and supporting working group member tasks.
Working Group Member Role
Each Working Group member:
- Prepares for and attends Working Group meetings, which take place every other month
- Actively learns, shares, and acts
- Collectively develops shared understanding based on the YVP Collaborative's definition of funding alignment to coordinate funding to neighborhoods
- Actively participates in sharing knowledge, data (including funding data), and best practices
- Actively participates in the measurement of any actions taken