THE PROGRAMS, THE DIRECT SERVICE COMPONENT
The Boston Ten Point Coalition operates the following programs as part of its direct service efforts. These programs provide a level of expertise that enables the organization to speak creditably to others who want to do this type of work. The Boston Ten Point Coalition is committed to being a learning organization and these programs provide the opportunity for continuous learning. Over the years, these programs have helped facilitate and test numerous new tactics, which have proven to be effective. Examples include the Season of Peace campaigns, the Memorials Project, Victim’s Assistance, First Responder Training for Clergy, among others. The findings are then taught to interested parties as best practices.
Second Chance -is a preventative program where faith-based organizations are asked to adopt a school and work with the most troubled kids and thus prevent them from getting into the “system.” It is also a program where faith-based organizations work with youth in detention facilities in the hope their lives can be transformed prior to being released. The second chance program is designed to prevent those who demonstrate the early signs or tendencies that typically lead to violent gang involvement or trying to persuade them to leave before they become too entrenched. We teach laity how to work with the schools, and school police to work with the most violent and disruptive kids. These kids are often expelled from school for violent and disruptive behavior. We go and teach others how to work with kids in youth detention centers. We make joint home visits with police to talk with the parent(s) of kids we suspect are in or near the early stages of becoming gang involved. Finally, we go to courts on behalf of or with kids. In all cases it is to give kids we believe can be transformed a “Second Chance.” While these kids are “at-risk” or ‘high-risk” and unlike the other “proven risk” kids, which are our target population, they are often the younger brother of a gang member, and may have a father, uncle or other close relative that is a gang a member. This increases the odds that without intervention, they will become violent, gang involved and a proven risk kid in the near future.
Gang Mediation – Our Boston TenPoint Coalition Gang Mediators are our “frontline” workers in a program that does direct intervention to mediate gang disputes. They work directly in the areas known to be at the highest risk for violence. Our mediators are often from the neighborhood or have some solid connection to the neighborhood they serve. When a dispute or “beef” breaks out between the “hood” they represent and another gang, they know the “players” that need to be at the table to make the ceasefire, meditation or truce stick. They have deep insight into the kids, parents, school, community centers and police that cover the area. They serve as a role model, and during the week, they try to deter violence and make referrals to kids who demonstrate a desire to change.
Gang Mediation has the largest impact, within our programs, on reducing gang violence, as violence between and among gangs tends to be retaliatory and vigilante. The opportunity of intervention can prevent a significant amount of death and injury. When shootings and homicides spiral out of control it is often because the “tit for tat” response cannot be stopped.
Fly Girls; the Sky is the Limit – is a unique program. Based on first-hand experience, we know girls are deeply involved in, facilitate and contribute to gang violence. They gather intelligence on enemy gangs, and individuals, hold/hide the guns, drugs and money for gang members, and help set up “hits” on rival gang members. Statistically, they are more likely to suffer as “collateral damage” than anyone else. Young girls may not realize that even standing near their boyfriend who is a gang member, makes them a prime target to be hit intentionally or unintentionally, that their boyfriend’s enemies are now their enemies, and even if she breaks up with her boyfriend, his enemies still view her as an enemy or as a way of affecting their intended target. If there is a “beef” between two individuals, an easy way to retaliate is to shoot the girlfriend as she is a much easier target. Girl’s who become involved with gang members may not realize they have an increased chance or being the victim or domestic violence, and rape. If they become pregnant, they may contribute to the next generation of gang involved youth.
The Fly, Girls! Program’s is focused on helping young women understand the potential impact and positive influence that they can have as it relates to violence. Our goal is to work with them so they do not become a target of rival gangs as a result of being in a relationship, formally (with a relative) or informally (with a boyfriend), who is a gang member. Our Fly Girls! Program works with the school leadership (girls at highest risk tend to stay in school much longer than boys) to build in-school mentoring and small group programs focused on positive self-esteem and truancy prevention.
Re-Entry Program – The Boston Ten Point Coalition is one of the founding partners (and the only faith-based organization) of the Boston Re-Entry Initiative (BRI), a nationally recognized program that prepares incarcerated youth for life outside of prison. The Boston Ten Point Coalition staff and volunteers provide job referral, counseling, housing assistance, educational referrals, health, advocacy, emotional and spiritual support to recently released “high impact” ex-offenders, in order to reduce the incidents of violence resulting from retaliation. These high impact players often spend years thinking of how they will settle a “beef” with who they suspect or is rumored to have turned them in to the police. Our goal here is to stop retaliation within the first 48 hours and provide them with a more positive direction. These Ex-offenders are dangerous in another way in that while they were incarcerated, the world passed them by and they may need to commit acts of violence to “re-establish” themselves in their “hood.” The program starts meeting and case managing incarcerated youth 12 months before release, and follows up with them up to six months after release occurs. The goal is to reduce the recidivism rate, to also reduce the incidents of violence resulting from retaliation giving youth a fresh direction.
The purpose of these three activities, advocacy, capacity building and direct service is to increase the level of participation by the faith based community in general and the church in particular, resulting in a decrease in the amount of gang violence and a change in culture. On the local level, what we do better than anyone else in Boston is:
Maintain a coalition of groups and individuals who are interested in and working toward reducing youth violence in genera and gang violence in particular. We take particular responsibility for making sure the faith-based community plays a vital role in that coalition. In addition, we use our flexibility as an organization to create, manage and respond to opportunities to prevent or respond to acts of violence through an array of tactics.