Present $100,000 Check for Joint Investment in Pilot Program
TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (September 13, 2011) – Today, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Bill Hanbury, President and CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area (NCA), as well as local community leaders and education officials, at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Temple Hills to announce a new initiative in Prince George’s County aimed at reducing the incidence of youth gang violence through education.
The Lt. Governor and United Way NCA presented a ceremonial check for $100,000 to community partners who will participate in the one-year pilot program, Way to P.E.A.C.E., (Prevention, Education, Awareness, Connection and Empowerment), in two Prince George’s middle schools this fall. An initial $50,000 state grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) is being matched with $50,000 from the United Way NCA to support the program.
“Building strong communities requires forming strong partnerships, and the Way to P.E.A.C.E program is a great example of how State government, non-profits, and community organizations can come together to make our schools and neighborhoods safer,” said Lt. Governor Brown.
“We see this as the first step in solving this growing problem in our region,” said Bill Hanbury, President and CEO, United Way of the National Capital Area. “The health of our region’s youth is one of United Way’s top priorities and our hope is that with the success of this program, we will be expanding to more communities in our region.”
“On behalf of the residents of Prince George’s County, I want to thank the United Way and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention for making the County safer for our citizens, especially our children,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “By combining the resources of the State, County, and non-profit community, Prince George’s County is aggressively combating gang violence and improving public safety.”
In 2009, the Prince George’s-Montgomery County Gang Prevention and Suppression Initiative indicated the presence of approximately 10,000 gang members across the Washington region, with involvement in 12 major gangs and over 400 local crews. The Prince George’s County Youth and Gang Violence Taskforce reports that over 1,800 gang/crew members representing 250 gangs/crews are active across the county. The Way to P.E.A.C.E. program will be implemented in two of the lowest performing middle schools in the southern part of the county where the incidence of gang activity is highest: Benjamin Stoddert and Thurgood Marshall, both in Temple Hills.
United Way NCA will lead the project and engage four key community partners in reaching out to gang-involved and targeted youth and families to link them with needed services and programs: Community of Hope AME Church, Step into the Light Ministries, Dreams Work Inc., and Circle of Hope. While many of these partners are already working on these issues individually, the Way to P.E.A.C.E. initiative will enable them to collectively work together to reach a greater number of at-risk youth. Examples of the types of programming the grants will fund include:
-Community of Hope AME Church’s “After-School and Community Programming” which engages students in projects in film, technology, music, construction and entrepreneurship.
-Step Into The Light Ministries’ “Crossing Jordan Group Home/Foster Care Empowerment Program” featuring a 10-week coaching/wellness curriculum for girls ages 9-17 living in three group homes/foster programs in the County.
-Circle of Hope’s Videography Training Program.
United Way NCA launched the first phase of the program in March, in conjunction with Dreams Work Inc., with the release of a video film project called "Strings Dream" under the Don't Bully...B.U.L.L.Y (Be You, Learn to Love Yourself) campaign. This year, the film will be screened to 80,000 middle school and high school youth in the metro region and many more virally. Members of the all student cast will hold panel discussions on preventive and intervention actions that can be taken to address bullying.
In addition to its contribution to the Way to P.E.A.C.E program, the O’Malley-Brown Administration, through GOCCP, has made substantial investments towards addressing youth violence in Prince George’s County. The County is currently working with a $2.2 million grant to reduce gang violence and recidivism. Other grants include $40,696 for Youth Court Education by the non-profit Community Advocates for Family and Youth, $36,000 to the Olde Mill Foundation for a neighborhood youth panel, and $150,000 to the City of District Heights for Youth Supervision Services.
Focusing on the critical areas of education, financial stability and health, United Way of the National Capital Area and its nonprofit members not only provide immediate relief of social problems affecting the community, but also works to alleviate the underlying causes of these issues. Serving the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties for more than 35 years, United Way of the National Capital Area works to inspire acts of caring, deliver hope and improve lives. For more information about United Way of the National Capital Area, visit www.unitedwaynca.org.