Codman Square Brotherhood Project | City of Ideas
Issue to be Addressed:
This application represents an important first implementation step of a youth strategy for the Codman Square/Four Corners neighborhood. The strategy grows out of a year and a half of community organizing by a collaborative of partners called the Millennium Ten Initiative (a member of LISC’s Resilient Communities, Resilient Families Coalition). Over the last year and a half, over 1000 people were engaged in the community organizing and priority planning process, and ultimately, a dedicated cohort of 30 youth emerged and formed a subgroup to discuss issues of concern for youth. Their primary concern was related to acts of violence, something they termed as the “culture of violence”, and lack of employment and internship opportunities. In their discussions, youth hypothesized that the culture of violence starts early in our communities and homes and that changing the culture of violence should be a top priority for Codman Square. The group generated a series of strategies to begin to bring culture change, including youth leadership development programming, youth job opportunities, and a cultural campaign to transform the culture of violence. This grant would provide funding to implement the first stage of their plan.
Millennium Ten proposes to build a brotherhood of 40 African American and Latino males, primarily ages 10-14, living in the Codman Square Four Corners area. This brotherhood will be built through a long term engagement that begins with a stipended, pre-employment internship program, focused on intensive leadership development, character development, and mentoring. These core program components (employment readiness, mentorship, and character development/manhood support) were identified as priorities by Codman Square youth in the Millennium Ten organizing process that concluded this summer.
The pre-employment program will be hosted by two organizations: Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation and The Boston Project Ministries. These two organizations have both run youth development programs for several years. This funding will allow them to strengthen and expand their programs, as well as link the young people in the separate programs to each other in ways that intentionally build a collective brotherhood focused on each individual youth’s development as well as the identity of a positive brotherhood culture for the neighborhood.
Role of Collaboration:
As part of the Millennium Ten planning process, a Steering Committee of residents and organizational partners committed to building a youth jobs hub that will expand the number of jobs available to youth in the community. The Youth HUB is designed to serve a range of youth and serve as a “pipeline” from pre-employment to employment. It will build on the local relationships that Steering Committee members have with local businesses to create a “hire local campaign” for youth that increase job opportunities without subsidies. The jobs hub is designed to serve a range of youth, starting with pre-employment training opportunities such as internships and youth leadership development for youth under 16 and employment opportunities for youth of eligible working age. The goal of these employment programs will be to increase youth readiness for work and marketability for future job opportunities.
This funding would launch the first stage of the youth jobs hub, a collaboration between community organizations, local business owners, and residents in Codman Square committed to increasing opportunities for youth people and changing the culture of violence. Several of the collaborations will be important new partnerships.
Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts (CBMM) will be integral to the project through both mentoring youth and training the partners in the collaborative to work with the young men. Their leadership through technical assistance and training will be key in helping to create a standard model of recruitment, training, and implementation for all parties involved.
The Dorchester Arts Collaborative (DAC ) will help facilitate the production of PSAs/ media to address the culture of violence through their relationship with the youth film making program at Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). The young men working with Millennium Ten identified negative media messages as being key in perpetuating a culture of violence, and DAC’s partnership will help provide an opportunity to cultivate a more positive media message strategy.
Boston Police Division B3 will work to foster positive engagement between police officers and younger youth, as well as provide activities in partnership with the collaborative.
The Boston Project Ministries and Codman Square NDC will together help identify and recruit youth to participate in the project, both focusing on their strong ties to young men in the community. Boston Project Ministries will be expanding their current program serving this population in the Talbot Norfolk Triangle neighborhood of Codman Square to work with an additional 20 young men between the ages of within their neighborhood. Codman Square NDC will be growing its program beyond its current STARS youth program to work with another 20 young men to incorporate in the Codman Square Brotherhood Project. Both of these organizations will be the service providing agencies for the collaborative, and will be leveraging their relationships with other organizations and groups in the community to continue to identify quality mentors and incorporate mentors already existing in their programs.
This program will provide stipended leadership/pre-employment positions to 50 youth in the Codman Square Four Corners area. During the course of the program, a community survey will be piloted that will help identify how this program changes perceptions about violence and alternatives to violence in the cohort, as well as how well it builds positive peer and mentorship opportunities. This survey will be used as the youth hub and culture of violence work progresses in order to measure impact in these two core areas. The Millennium Ten partners are in conversation with University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Social Policy about evaluating this activity as part of their embedded evaluation work for the Resilient Communities, Resilient Families Initiative.
The following articles describe the Millennium Ten Community Organizing process.
The mission of Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation is to build a better, stronger community in Codman Square and South Dorchester by creating housing and commercial spaces that are safe, sustainable, and affordable, promoting financial and economic stability for residents and for the neighborhood, and providing residents of all ages with opportunities and skills to empower themselves to improve their lives. It is the lead agency for the Millennium Ten Initiative (part of LISC's Resilient Communities, Resilient Families Initiative), a resident and stakeholder led community-planning process aimed to rebrand the community as a neighborhood of choice and a place of promise.
Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, Inc. (CBMM) is a partnership of man dedicated to asserting the Black males’ importance to the perpetuation of family and general cohesiveness through education, social and cultural principles, and economic interdependence. Their mission is to improve the quality of life in the black community by reaffirming the viability of the black male.
The Dorchester Arts Collaborative is a membership organization that has been facilitating the arts in Dorchester since 2002 for the social, cultural, and economic enrichment of the diverse neighborhood. It was founded in 2002 in order to build on the success of the Open Studios event that had been taking place for 16 years prior. The Dorchester Arts Collaborative has become a strong community partner and resource, and remains committed to facilitating and supporting arts for all genres and arts programming in Dorchester.
Boston Project Ministries engages residents and volunteers to build and nurture strong communities characterized by God’s shalom. Their goal is to create a thriving community and fulfill their mission by involving neighbors as leaders in community improvement projects, investing in local youth, and providing new resources (e.g., technical assistance, volunteers) within the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle neighborhood. Their mission is anchored in our model of establishing Neighborhood Ministry Houses in under-resourced communities. Neighbors utilize these safe havens as gathering places, resource centers, and centralized locations for volunteer engagement and community organizing. TBPM has been developing this model since 1995, based on experience and the tenets of the Christian Community Development Association (a national association of practitioners doing similar work throughout the U.S.).
Building productive partnerships with our youth, neighborhood crime watch groups, non-profit and government agencies, and community organizations of all kinds continues to be a major focus of the neighborhood policing efforts in District B-3. Officers are involved in annual events such as Youth Pride and Drug Free Family Days. They sponsor clubs for interests as diverse as fishing and model building. They coordinate athletic leagues, trips and outings. They act as mentors, instructors, and guest speakers. They host community meetings and holiday parties, participate in fundraising drives, summer camps, and senior citizen outreach programs. In short, in a variety of ways, they seek to improve the overall quality of life for the residents of the neighborhoods they serve.