Youth & Gang Violence Prevention
Building Better Futures, The Newport News Youth & Young Adult Gang Violence Prevention Initiative, is part of the City’s Strategic Plan to address public safety. It is locally funded by City Council with oversight from the City Manager’s Office. The reduction of violent gang and gang-related crime by youth and young adults is a critical strategic priority for City Council. Local street gangs, or neighborhood-based street gangs, across the City of Newport News are a significant threat to public safety because they engage in violence in conjunction with a variety of other crimes. The City has implemented the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Comprehensive Gang Model (OJJDP) as a strategy to address this threat. The OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model (Model) is an intervention model that calls for five core strategies to be delivered through an integrated approach from a team of community agencies and organizations.
The Initiative will primarily serve youth and young adults between the ages of 12-24 that engage in risky, criminal, or negative behaviors, including gang members and their associates and families. The goal is to encourage leadership, goal setting, decision making, training, employment readiness and communication skills through a variety of strategies designed to redirect and support positive behavior, prevent further gang involvement and other risk behaviors.
Past Press Coverage
The Daily Press
- Newport News STEP program more than doubles in second year
- Newport News offers youth violence prevention funding
The Seeing Opportunities Within (S.O.W.) Program/Project was created to provide intensive intervention services to high risk and/or gang affiliated youth and young adults. As part of S.O.W, Street Outreach Workers are assigned to identify and engage gang members within the target area at the street and home level. Outreach are referred to as “street” outreach workers because their work is not office-based or even institutional- or school-based, but occurs primarily in the targeted neighborhoods, at the street and home level. The effectiveness of Outreach Workers in building relationships with gang members and their families to reduce clients’ bonds to gangs, to reduce gang-related conflict and violence, to support and assist gang members and their families in accessing social and educational services, and to provide a positive adult example is essential. The majority of an Outreach Worker’s time is spent directly with gang-involved youth and young adults, identifying their needs and goals, and reporting back to the Intervention Team. The Intervention Team manages gang-involved youth to address their individual circumstances by creating a case management plan for each gang member to receive services, while simultaneously addressing social deficits and negative behaviors.
The Summer Training and Enrichment Program (STEP) is a work readiness program for 16 to 24 year olds living in defined areas of the city that provides paid work training experience, enrichment activities, workshops, financial literacy training, and GED preparation classes. Additionally, participants are partnered with a worksite 25-30 hours per week to prepare them for the workforce. Through partnerships with City Departments, non-profit organizations, and for-profit businesses, the participants are exposed to the world of work though hands on participation at their site placements and enrichment activities to expose them to different career options. The program is 10 weeks and each participant in the program will receive a bi-weekly stipend.
Applications for participants are being accepted until March 31st and can be accessed by visiting the official STEP website page.
Businesses and organizations interested in providing work sites for STEP participants, at no cost to the business, can apply through early May by visiting the official STEP website page.
- » View the STEP Summer 2017 flyer (PDF)
In order to address the needs of referrals made from the Seeing Opportunities Within Program, a multidisciplinary Intervention Team has been formed. The Team will create an individualized case management plan for each client to receive services, while simultaneously addressing social deficits and negative behaviors. This approach helps gang-involved youth leave gangs and facilitates positive change within the community. This team will work to increase the effectiveness of individual agency efforts, reduce duplication of services, increase access to needed services, and ensure that gang members are held accountable for their actions. This multidisciplinary approach will ensure that all agencies working with these clients have a common goal and shared strategies for each client.
The City of Newport News is continuing its efforts to address crime in its communities. Off the heels of hiring a new police chief, the City’s youth and gang violence prevention and intervention initiative, Building Better Futures, is also working on a strategic plan to address crime for the next three years. Building Better Futures, currently runs two major programs the Summer Training and Enrichment Program and Seeking Opportunities Within along with other smaller programs throughout the year to help with youth and violence in the city. To enhance and expand the current efforts, Building Better Futures has hired a consultant to assist in creating the strategic plan. The planning process includes gathering community’s input on how they believe crime should be addressed in their neighborhoods.