U.S. DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance Awards $265,930 for Local Project Safe Neighborhoods Prevention Programs | USAO-SDCA

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 3, 2020

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded $265,930 to local non-profit organizations to lead programs that will break the cycle of crime and keep youth and reentering adults from being involved in gangs and crime, enabling them to reach their full potential.  This is the first in a series of awards under DOJ’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) for the Southern District of California (SDCA). The awardees in this grant cycle are the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside, El Centro Police Athletic League, the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Reality Changers, STAR Police Athletic League, and Youth Empowerment. The grant funding will help these non-profits deter crime, provide support and expand mentoring programs within our community.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is designed to create and foster safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in violent crime, including, but not limited to, addressing criminal gangs and the felonious possession and use of firearms. The program’s effectiveness depends upon the ongoing coordination, cooperation, and partnerships of local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies – and the communities they serve – engaged in a unified approach led by the U.S. Attorney in all 94 districts.

“Reducing violent crime requires a collaborative, multi-layered strategy that includes prevention as well as enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.  “Many are recruited into gang life at a young age because they lack role models and mentors.  These awardees are effectively reaching at risk youth and reentering adults by building trusting relationships and showing the path toward a fulfilling life that does not involve gangs and criminal behavior. The end result? Brighter futures and safer neighborhoods.”

The nonprofit recipients will help deter gang involvement, prevent criminal activity and provide resources to local communities.  The Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice award will conduct research into PSN program outcomes, helping to ensure an evidence-based, data-driven approach to local prevention efforts. The Children’s Initiative, which works to ensure that San Diego’s low-income and under-served children and families reach their full potential, is serving as the fiscal agent to all awardees in this grant cycle and all forthcoming grant cycles.

  • The Boy and Girls Club of Oceanside (BCGO) works to inspire, develop and enrich young people aged 5-18 so they can reach their full potential as confident, responsible, caring members of society. The PSN grant will assist the Oceanside Youth Partnership (OYP), a collaborative program of BCGO and the Oceanside Police Department. OYP is a character building and mentoring program designed to deter gang involvement and prevent and reduce juvenile arrests. “We are so grateful to receive a PSN grant. These funds will allow us to continue to work collaboratively with the Oceanside Police Department to deliver the Oceanside Youth Partnership program.  Together, we will be able to reach out to more at-risk youth and work to keep them on the right path and out of the juvenile justice system,” said Jodi Diamond, BCGO Chief Executive Officer.
     
  • Reality Changers is a non-profit that provides youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with academic support, financial assistance and leadership training. Reality Changers will use the award to enhance its 8th grade College Town Program, which prepares low-income, struggling 8th -11th graders to be college-ready by 12th grade. Through workshops, tutoring, social and emotional development programs, Reality Changers helps to keep youth on a positive path, away from gangs and violent crime.
     
  • The STAR Police Athletic League (STAR/PAL) is a non-profit that aims to empower underserved youth and build a safer community by engaging with law enforcement and collaborative partners. PSN funding will assist with STAR Pal leadership development, mentoring, crime prevention education, life skills and positive sports team activities.
  • Youth Empowerment (YE) is a non-profit that provides services for justice involved youth and adults living in the communities of City Heights and Southeast San Diego. YE focuses on mentoring youth and adults from the reentry population to aide them in successfully transitioning back into their communities and not recidivate. PSN funding will further support their efforts and provide more services to the community they serve. “Youth Empowerment helps support and transform communities and builds public safety through community mentoring, systems engagement, and advocacy,” said President/CEO Arthur Soriano. “All our staff have experience in the justice system and this experience is going to have an impact in the communities we serve. Investing in grassroots efforts encourages and promotes civic engagement and restoration with solution based approaches.”
     
  • El Centro Police Athletic League (PAL) is a non-profit that provides youth aged 5 – 17 with recreational and educational programs as alternatives to criminal delinquency, drugs and gangs. The award will help build closer relationships between youth and law enforcement, reduce juvenile crimes and decrease the lure of gangs and drug use through soccer, boxing, martial arts, golf, mentoring program, youth leadership program, after school tutoring, and summer camp.

In addition to the considerable financial support announced today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDCA will continue to build relationship with community partners and use all resources available to help deter crime and make our communities safer for everyone.

The SDCA’s PSN grants were competitively awarded based on the recommendations of U.S. Attorney Brewer’s PSN Executive Committee, which includes former Police Chiefs David Bejarano and Shelley Zimmerman and retired Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Paul Cook.  The grants announced today are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer. The U.S. Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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