In 2010, researchers from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government published stunning statistics which showed that from 2006 to 2009, 39 percent of all of Boston’s homicides and 52 percent of all fatal shootings took place within a small (3.42 square mile) area—neighborhoods that also have high rates of poverty and disinvestment. In response, the Boston Foundation created StreetSafe Boston, a five-year, special initiative focusing on the geographical area identified by the study.
StreetSafe Boston’s (SSB) overarching goal is to prevent and intervene in gang activity, with three interrelated objectives to reduce gang and gun violence: decrease gang presence and hostilities; promote positive youth development in life skills, education, and employment; and prioritize learning, evaluation, and research to advance evidence-based practices for the fields of youth development and community-based violence prevention. StreetSafe trains and deploys streetworkers who are committed to developing direct, constant connections with proven-risk young people. Once a streetworker gains a youth’s trust, he connects him or her with other StreetSafe staff members who can help to provide everything from education to housing to health care and job training.
Upon evaluating best practices and in partnership with the Boston Foundation and StreetSafe leadership, Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston decided to incorporate StreetSafe Boston into the current Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) Violence Interrupters program (managed through the BCYF Foundation). By joining BCYF, StreetSafe Boston has become part of a comprehensive city-wide approach to violence prevention and youth development, as a vital component in the City’s network of capacity.
With StreetSafe Boston’s transition to the City on January 1, 2015, this initiative has established a permanent and sustainable home that builds on the initiative’s strong 5-year track record. This initiative also brought with it a strong history of data and metrics which has encouraged the City to adopt new practices for tracking and evaluating their work. Incorporating SSB into the City’s streetworker program is ensuring that a relational approach to violence prevention is fully integrated into a larger, city-wide system. The transition to BCYF has expanded the expertise, capacity, impact and sustainability of the program and anticipates increasing the reach from 20 up to 40 targeted gangs.
Continued support of this effort is essential to a smooth transition and continued execution of StreetSafe’s approach to violence prevention. We hope you will join us in sustaining this vital effort for the City of Boston.