Positive Youth Development & Youth Violence Prevention

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Governor Patrick    FY 2013 Budget Recommendation:
    Issues in Brief

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor
    Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor


Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, the Patrick-Murray Administration is working to end youth violence and promote positive youth development by prioritizing funding for programs and initiatives.  In addition to targeted law enforcement efforts, the Patrick-Murray Administration has taken a two-pronged approach to creating a culture of opportunity for our youth: preventing and addressing violence, and providing services that enable our youth to make positive choices and lead productive lives. 

Positive youth development and youth violence prevention crosses many programs within state government and coordinating these programs and outcomes will continue to be a primary focus in the FY 2013 budget.  The Youth Violence Prevention Working Group, composed of representatives of relevant state agencies and the Governor’s Office, have been meeting with municipal authorities, community based youth service providers, young people and youth advocacy groups over the past two years to invite their ideas and suggestions for best approaches and practices for promoting positive youth development and for preventing youth violence.  Working with this community coalition, the Patrick-Murray Administration encourages a comprehensive public health approach to promoting positive youth development and preventing youth violence with a focus on a number of key programs in areas with the highest need. 

Reducing youth violence in the Commonwealth requires three core strategies focusing on prevention, intervention and suppression.  Prevention services are geared toward 80-85% of youth at risk for violence and include “alternative to violence” education programs to reduce the risk of youth becoming engaged in violence.  Intervention services are focused on 15-20% of youth having a history of violent behavior and include protecting and supporting individuals impacted by violence and enabling positive change through skill building and development.  Suppression focuses on 5% of youth engaging in violent behavior and includes arrest and detention.

This graphic shows a pyramid demonstrating how much of services will be geared towards the three-pronged strategy for reducing youth violence and promoting positive youth development. 80-85% of services and programs will focus on prevention. 15-20% of services and programs will focus on intervention, and 5% of services and programs will focus on suppression.

Prioritizing Outcomes

In FY 2013, Governor Patrick continues to prioritize funding for positive youth development and youth violence prevention programs for a total investment of $35.5 M.  Agencies awarding grants will work together and in partnership with communities to determine measures and outcomes for positive youth development.  Ultimately, the reported data will be used to assess the success of our investments, ensure that funds are strategically aligned, and will allow us to target state resources to those grantees and programs that most clearly influence the lives of at-risk youth. 

Deterring Youth Impacted by Violence

The state will continue to invest in the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative grant program to fill in gaps in services available for the highest risk populations.  In FY 2012, grants were awarded to 11 cities for targeted intervention programs with high impact youth and their families.  This grant program is a coordinated intervention strategy focused on young men (age 14-24) identified as a high risk for becoming perpetrators or victims of gun violence.  Grants were allocated to Boston, Lynn, Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Lawrence, Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, New Bedford and Holyoke.  The program focuses on communities with the highest number of youth homicides and serious assaults and allow for the flexibility necessary to meet different challenges in different communities.  The goal is to ensure that a full continuum of services - trauma informed case management, intensive supervision, employment, education and health care - are available and coordinated in each city and are reaching the target population.

Additionally, the Governor will maintain funding for the youth violence prevention grants administered by the Department of Public Health.  These grants target a wide range of at risk youth and seek innovative and constructive ways to address youth violence at the community and grassroots level.

Positive Youth Development and Youth Violence Prevention Grants by Location

A map of Massachusetts which shows municipalities which have received Positive Youth Development and Youth Violence Prevention Grants within the last grant cycle.

Map includes grants awarded for Positive Youth Development and Youth Violence Prevention activities in the most recent grant cycle, but it does not include grants awarded by the Executive Office of Education which are disseminated statewide.

Creating More Peaceful Communities

While intervention activities will address violence in the short-term, long-term sustainability of a peaceful environment requires a community-wide embrace of prevention strategies known to restore peace.  The Governor’s strategy taps into methods demonstrated to be effective in promoting peaceful environments, including: building strong and engaged communities; providing structured positive out-of-school time activities for younger siblings and children of highest risk youth; acknowledging and addressing the impact of trauma on a neighborhood or community; and providing opportunities for youth leadership development and opportunities to learn alternative conflict resolution.  In addition to the work already taking place in communities, the state will use its public health and public safety resources to ensure a coordinated approach to reaching young people before they become involved in violence. 

The Department of Public Health will level fund Youth-at-Risk matching grants including funding for the Massachusetts Coalition of Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, YWCAs and other out of school time programs.  The Executive Office of Education will level fund After School and Out of School Grants. 

Creating Better Opportunities

Providing youth with more opportunities to learn and work helps create peaceful communities.  Youth who are engaged in educational activities or leadership development programs will likely have increased opportunities to build a healthy future. 

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development will increase support for summer jobs for at-risk youth in local communities and businesses as a way to offer subsidized work for at-risk youths.  Distribution of these grants is the responsibility of the Commonwealth’s 16 regional Workforce Investment Boards (WIB).  These jobs bring with them educational and skill-building opportunities with the expectation of reducing juvenile delinquency in high-risk areas of the Commonwealth.  Most of this funding is used during the summer months when there is greater demand for youth employment. 

The Executive Office of Education will increase funding to YouthBuild and maintain funding to School to Career Connecting Activities.  YouthBuild specifically targets low-income students (over 90% of YouthBuild participants are high school dropouts ages 16-24) to improve education, job training, leadership development and community services, while also building affordable housing for low-income residents.  School-to-career connecting activities are designed to drive and sustain the statewide school-to-career system by establishing public-private partnerships through the 16 local WIBs to connect schools and businesses to provide structured work-based learning experiences for students that support both academic and employment skills attainment.

Getting Guns Off the Street

A comprehensive youth violence prevention strategy must include effective law enforcement intervention to protect the community from the most violent offenders, particularly those who use guns in gang-related violence and drug distribution.  The Charles E.  Shannon Jr.  Community Safety Initiative Grants work to prevent gang violence and are targeted at communities with higher crime rates and at youth demographics considered more at-risk for crime.  The Governor will again invest $8 M in these grants, which may be utilized by local police departments to bolster their ability to respond to youth crime as well as local community groups that provided supportive services for at-risk youth. 


Prepared by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information email: contactanf@massmail.state.ma.us (617) 727-2040