Street Outreach grant approved

In Matt Smith’s ’98 first full Board of Aldermen meeting since his election as Ward 9 alderman, the Board unanimously authorized the acceptance of a federal grant intended to help reduce youth violence. The money will go to the city’s street outreach worker program, which was launched in July 2007 as part of Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s Youth Initiative. The initiative aims to reduce youth violence by building relationships between at-risk youths and street outreach workers. The Board’s Youth Committee voted Oct. 27 to recommend to authorize the New Haven Family Alliance, a local nonprofit that manages the workers, to accept the $350,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a division of the U.S. Justice Department.

“These street outreach workers are an integral part of our communities,” said Youth Committee member and Ward 24 Alderman Marcus Paca. “They target our most at-risk youth and provide them an outlet to hash out their differences in a peaceful way.”

As of now, the Family Alliance has only eight workers for the entire city.

In an October interview, Barbara Tinney, executive director of the Family Alliance, said the federal money will help the organization expand services for the city’s youth, including employability and life skills workshops.

“The aim is to provide support to young people who are often marginalized and stereotyped,” Tinney said.

Ward 3 Alderwoman and committee member Jacqueline James-Evans, who has said that her ward has been experiencing problems with gun violence, announced to the Board that she will be hosting a dinner at Career High School in honor of the street outreach workers and the children with whom they have worked.

“I urge all of you to come and support these kids who are at risk and trying their best to do the right thing in their communities,” she said to the aldermen in attendance. “I’m cooking,” she added to applause and laughter.

The next Board of Aldermen meeting will take place on Dec. 6.

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