Project BuildStrong | City of Ideas
Issue to be Addressed:
IHR proposes to link closely with the City of Boston’s Quincy Corridor Transformation Plan, which includes a focus on overall quality of life and on education and job creation, in the target Choice Neighborhoods. This project will address wellness and economic opportunity, including building self-esteem and resilience in black and brown boys and young men and their families, specifically residents of Woodledge/Morrant Bay, scattered site housing slated to relocate all residents during renovations as part of the City’s plan. Boys of color in this age group may have experienced trauma which can lead to isolation and low self-esteem. Without positive options for future success, they may join gangs to give them a sense of family, turn to drugs and/or alcohol to cope, and have undiagnosed mental health issues. We will improve their lives and futures by (1) providing mentoring, leadership, and opportunities for positive modeling, and (2) providing case management to families, including identifying resources for employment and wellness, to foster family stability and support the boys. Many families in this neighborhood already live in poverty; being relocated during housing renovations can lead to further instability.
Through the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services, IHR will provide comprehensive case management and resource coordination for families who are residents of Woodledge/Morrant Bay in Roxbury near Grove Hall. Our proposed project will complement these services, supporting a project coordinator whose time would be divided between (1) working directly with boys and young men by facilitating leadership and mentoring groups, and (2) building connections and communities that will help sustain and stabilize families during the relocation period. The coordinator will also supervise IHR’s two case managers for the Choice Neighborhoods program. Group activities will focus on exposing the young men to positive role models through collaborations within the community. This can include exploring other lifestyles and options through field trips and guest speakers, something few youth in this neighborhood have had the opportunity to do. Collaboration with IHR’s Grove Hall Getting Healthier project will offer opportunities for young men to become aware of the risks of HIV, work with peer leaders, and address their overall wellness. Young men may be mentored and/or trained as peer leaders through IHR and other community collaborators.
Role of Collaboration:
Institute for Health and Recovery (IHR) — IHR will support a coordinator to work directly with boys in the program, and with their families being relocated through the Choice Neighborhoods initiative. The coordinator will be sited in rented space in the Grove Hall neighborhood, co-located with Multicultural AIDS Coalition/Women Connecting Affecting Change. IHR’s mission includes a commitment to collaborative models of service delivery, and our programs clearly demonstrate that commitment. IHR has a robust history of receiving federal grants; the majority of these are collaborations with community-based agencies, which we seek out to work with us, developing programs that address need.
Quincy Geneva Housing Corporation — IHR and Quincy Geneva Housing Corporation have worked together since 2006, collaborating on a range of projects to improve the lives of Grove Hall residents. IHR collaborated with Grove Hall community providers in 2008 to design Grove Hall Getting Healthier ((GH)2), a five‐year project that seeks to prevent and reduce the risk of substance use and HIV/STDs among youth 12‐17 in Grove Hall. In 2011, IHR was awarded the Excellence in Partnership Award by Quincy Geneva for (GH)2. Quincy Geneva will work with us to provide leadership, mentoring, resources, and economic opportunities for the young men.
City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services — The Office of Jobs and Community Services will provide funding and oversight for IHR’s Choice Neighborhoods Case Management & Resource Coordination grant. These case management services are funded as part of the City’s Quincy Corridor Transformation Plan, which includes new affordable housing and housing for elderly residents, as well as the redevelopment of Woodledge/Morrant Bay, a severely distressed 129-unit HUD assisted housing development. IHR’s case management and Project BuildStrong initiatives focus on the families in these developments and young men of color, ages 9-15, who are part of those families.
Project BuildStrong presents an opportunity for IHR to positively impact the lives and futures of boys and young men of color. Through the City’s Choice Neighborhoods initiative/Quincy Corridor Transformation Plan, a $20 million economic improvement project with which IHR is partnered, IHR will have two full-time case managers following all families relocated during the renovations, offering them resources and connections, and assisting them in attaining residential and economic stability. We will utilize the coordinator funded through Collaborate Boston to focus specifically on the boys and young men in these families, providing them with mentoring and leadership groups, as well as information on wellness and economic opportunities. By working with the boys’ families, we will be able to build strong supports for these young men, assisting them in developing self-esteem and resilience. The goal is to positively impact the lives of families, building capacity within the community to offer economic opportunities and housing stability, known factors in assisting families to attain economic stability. Our staff will interview the boys and young men prior to the start of the project and at discharge, asking about their self-perceptions, connections to family and community, and overall wellness.
Since 1990, IHR has provided trauma-informed, family-based, and holistic services to women, men, children, adolescents and families, in collaboration with state agencies, community-based organizations, and treatment/corrections facilities, emphasizing the need for strength-based, comprehensive care tailored to address the individual needs of each client or family. IHR has served youth, young adults and their families since 2005, and currently serves this population in metro-Boston (including Chelsea, Everett, Revere and Winthrop), as well as northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts.
IHR uses the evidence-based Adolescent-Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) in its work with youth and young adults. This motivational approach allows staff to meet young people where it is comfortable for them (school, community, coffee shop) and assists young people in identifying barriers to improving their lives. A-CRA works with families and provides pro-social skills and opportunities to address the isolation and fear that adolescents, and especially young men of color, face on a daily basis. IHR staff are certified in these interventions, which we will use to reach out to black and brown boys and young men in the Choice Neighborhoods. IHR is requesting $60,000 from Collaborate Boston to support the proposed position and complement our other work in Grove Hall.
Katharine Thomas is Assistant Director of IHR, where she has been for 15 years. She manages a variety of state- and federally-funded projects delivering substance abuse treatment and case management to youth, individuals, and families. Ms. Thomas has worked since 2006 with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services to address substance abuse issues for youth involved in the juvenile justice system, and works with the Department of Public Health to address substance abuse issues for pregnant and parenting women. Ms. Thomas is a member of the statewide Advisory Committee on Children, Youth, and Families.
Robert Francis is President of Quincy Geneva Housing Corporation and New Vision Community Development Corporation. Quincy Geneva Housing Corporation (QGHC) was founded and incorporated in 1983 as a private non-profit formed and governed by the low- and moderate-income residents of the Grove Hall section of North Dorchester and North Roxbury. Grove Hall’s residents were among those considered by public officials as most-at-risk. QGHC was created to improve the quality of life of its targeted resident population. John Barbour, QGHC Board member, has worked with IHR for many years to design and provide services for Grove Hall residents.
For the past ten years, Ken Barnes has been Deputy Director for Planning and Policy Development at the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services (JCS). JCS serves as the City’s workforce development agency, promoting economic self-sufficiency to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city's economic vitality and future. The office serves as an advocate, clearinghouse, and laboratory for “best practices” in literacy, beginning at birth; lifelong learning; job training/placement; and support services so Bostonians may fulfill their educational and employment aspirations. JCS manages several million dollars in funding from the US Department of Labor, as well as state funds for education and youth services, and currently manages the social services portion of Boston’s Choice Neighborhoods grant.