$100,000 To Be Invested in the New Initiative
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) joins forces with Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and state officials to jointly donate $100,000 toward a new initiative in Prince George’s County aimed at reducing the incidence of youth gang violence through education. Specifically, the Governor’s Office Of Crime Control and Prevention committed the initial $50,000 and United Way NCA provided the matching $50,000 grant. United Way NCA, working with its community partners, will launch 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.
“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.”
“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.
In 2009, the Prince George’s-Montgomery County Gang Prevention and Suppression Initiative indicated the presence of 10,000 gang members across the Washington region with involvement in 12 major gangs and over 400 local crews. Specifically within Prince George’s County, its Youth and Gang Violence Taskforce reports that over 1,800 gang/crew members are active across the county, representing 250 gangs or crews. 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 incidence of gang activity is highest, specifically Benjamin Stoddert and Thurgood Marshall middle schools.
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. The partners involved in this program include, but are not limited to: Community of Hope AME Church, Step into the Light Ministries, Dreams Work Inc., and Circle of Hope.
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.
While many of these partners are already working on these issues, collectively under the Way to P.E.A.C.E. initiative, the grant will enable them to reach more at risk youth with their efforts.
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, with members of the all student cast holding panel discussions on preventive and intervention actions that can be taken to address bullying.
While formal goals and performance measures are still being defined for Way to P.E.A.C.E., United Way NCA expects the results will show a reduction in crime within 12 months, a measurable decrease in school absenteeism, a decrease in bullying incidents and increase in graduation rates.
About United Way of the National Capital Area
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.