Looking to expand Baltimore City’s Safe Streets program, the Baltimore City Health Department’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention has sent out a call to all organizations looking to help create a safer city. Offering a $375,000 grant to the organization looking to act as lead agency for Safe Streets Baltimore, the program is targeted at teens and young adults ages 14 to 25.

A bidder’s conference will be held at City Hall (100 N. Holliday Street) in the Curran Conference Room, noon, Jan. 18, 2012. Interested parties need to respond by Jan. 13, 2012 and must have one or more representatives present at the mandatory conference. A workshop will be held at the conference where in-depth information on both the CeaseFire and Safe Streets programs will be given.

Currently operated by Living Classrooms, the program received a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in September to expand its program to new locations. “I am pleased that Baltimore City is able to expand this important initiative,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a press release at the time of the award. “The progress we have seen through Safe Streets is extremely promising, and it’s time to build upon that success and reach out to even more communities.”

First introduced to Baltimore in 2007, Safe Streets has been on a mission ever since to decrease the number of shootings and homicides within target areas that suffer from a high incidence of violent crime. Based on the CeaseFire Chicago program, which has seen a 41 to 73 percent reduction in shootings and killings, Safe Streets Baltimore is run by outreach workers who work hand in hand with young adult participants to reduce crime. According to reports released by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Safe Streets Baltimore has had a significant impact on the city, with the homicide rate per month falling 59 percent in McElderry Park alone within the first year and a half of implementation.

Safe Streets’ outreach staff members work to break the cycles of violence in the community by preventing and intervening in violent situations, building open relationships with community residents and seeking out potential victims and perpetrators of crime before an incident occurs. Within 72 hours of every shooting or killing, outreach workers gather at the scene and hold peace marches, prayer sessions, or vigils to spread the mission of non-violence and also deter retaliation crimes. They also help participants enroll in job training programs, substance abuse treatment facilities and schools for opportunities to escape a life of crime. Safe Streets aims to build community coalitions, reach at risk youth, increase public education, and increase clergy and law enforcement collaborations and involvement. The program seeks out participants who are in the target age range and currently have a role in a gang or group that engages in violent activity against other persons. Participants can also be young adults who have been involved in a shooting within the last 90 days or those who have been recently released from prison or juvenile detention. Currently, the program has been implemented in the East Baltimore community of McElderry Park and South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill community. Eligible neighborhoods for new Safe Streets locations include Edmondson Village, Reservoir Hill, Washington Village, Better Waverly, and other neighborhoods in Baltimore City with above average shooting and homicide rates.

{For more information on how and where to submit a proposal please visit www.baltimorehealth.org/rfp.html}


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer