Mayor Rybak Says Progress is Being Made on Minneapolis Plan to Fight Youth Violence
Progress Being Made on City’s Youth Violence Prevention Blueprint
October 3, 2008 (MINNEAPOLIS) -- Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Minneapolis Foundation Vice President Karen Kelley-Ariwoola and other members of the Minneapolis Youth Violence Prevention Task Force today released a progress report on the city’s efforts to prevent youth violence.
With youth violence trending downward and many new efforts underway to keep young people safe, city leaders feel that their efforts are starting to make a difference. However, with violence still gripping too many families and neighborhoods, Mayor Rybak says that much work lies ahead.
"Our primary goal is zero youth homicides and we will not rest until that happens," Rybak said. "We need everyone in this community to understand that youth violence affects each of us and each of us has a role to play to keep our children and youth safe."
In January if this year, Mayor Rybak and other city and community leaders launched the Blueprint to Prevent Youth Violence: a multi-faceted, multi-year action plan to attack the core issues behind the violence being inflicted on and by too many young people in the city. The Blueprint views youth violence as a public health epidemic, like polio or smoking, which can be prevented.
Nine months after the initial release of the Blueprint, Minneapolis leaders reported today that tangible progress has been made on all 34 action items identified in the plan, falling under four broad goals: to connect every youth with a trusted adult; to intervene at the first sign that youth are at risk for violence; to restore youth who have gone down the wrong path; and to unlearn the culture of violence in our community. Accomplishments on these goals so far include:
Ø The Park Board expanded summer hours and youth programming at Minneapolis city parks.
Ø The City and Big Brothers / Big Sisters is recruiting 50 city employees to serve as mentors for area youth.
Ø The City and the School Board placed Minneapolis police officers into middle schools and high schools to better align the city’s youth violence efforts with the school district and improve relations between youth and those who protect them.
Ø The City increased funding for home-visiting nurses who help teen parents stay in school and care for their babies.
Ø The City and Hennepin County opened a new Juvenile Supervision Center, to connect youth picked up for low level offenses like curfew violation with safe supervision and community resources to help get them back on track.
Ø The City funded Project MURUA, a "boot camp" for parents of teens at the Minneapolis Urban League, to give parents more tools and peer-support to help them raise their kids.
Ø Hennepin County is expanding programs that help youth re-enter to their communities after detention.
Ø The City and Hennepin County, working through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, implemented a Juvenile Gun Initiative to reduce the number of youth carrying guns and send the message to youth that gun possession is not accepted in our community.
Ø The Minneapolis Foundation is launching a youth-driven public information and mobilization campaign to de-normalize and reduce violence in communities most impacted by violence.
In addition to these actions, Mayor Rybak said that the City has used the youth violence prevention blueprint to leverage outside funding for efforts that also address youth violence. Examples including a $200,000 two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help keep kids out of gangs and more than $700,000 in grants to community-based organizations from the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone.
So far in Minneapolis this year, violent crime involving juveniles is down 46% compared to two years ago. This means that two years ago almost half the violent crimes in Minneapolis were committed by young people; today that has fallen to 25%.
"Government alone cannot eliminate violence from our community," said Karen Kelly-Ariwoola of The Minneapolis Foundation and a co-chair of the youth violence committee with Mayor Rybak. "In order to turn around the epidemic of youth violence in Minneapolis, we need to surround our youth and their families with support, opportunity and hope, while also holding them accountable for their actions."
"We have made early progress on every action item in our Blueprint to prevention youth violence," Rybak added. "We are headed in the right direction, with an unprecedented level of coordination among multiple levels of government, dozens of community organizations, and countless youth and adult leaders."
Published Oct. 3, 2008