AmeriCorps to Help Fight Youth Violence

Apr 4, 2012

CNCS, Points of Light Announce Partnership with National Forum on Youth Violence

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the Corporation for National and Community Service, in collaboration with Points of Light, announced the expansion of an AmeriCorps VISTA project to support the efforts of the National Forum on Youth Violence to promote pathways to opportunity for at-risk youth, while working to eliminate youth violence.

Building on the pilot project in Detroit, five cities including Boston; Chicago; Memphis, Tennessee; Salinas and San Jose, California will be able to sponsor up to two AmeriCorps VISTA members through the Points of Light VISTA program. These members will be dedicated to supporting the city's efforts around preventing youth violence – mobilizing and engaging volunteers, developing partnerships, and building public awareness.

“Collaboration is at the heart of the National Forum on Youth Violence,” said Robert Velasco, II, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “It takes support from every sector, from partners at all levels, and every day citizens who step up to be a part of the solution. The Corporation for National and Community Service is proud to be a part of this collective effort that will make communities safer and futures brighter for young people across the country.”

The announcement was made at a White House Champions of Change event honoring 12 community leaders for their work to prevent youth violence and comes on the heels of the National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence in Washington, D.C.

The initial site in Detroit utilized an AmeriCorps VISTA member to develop a sustainable volunteer infrastructure for mentors and mentees participating in Team Bing Mentoring, part of a newly launched citywide youth violence prevention program. The VISTA supported a mentoring platform, allowing for more adult volunteers to be mobilized and connected to youth. These adults provide successful and caring mentoring relationships that foster growth for participatingyouth and assist youth in career exploration, student attendance and retention, social skill development and college readiness.

“Points of Light believes in the power of mobilizing communities to drive positive change. By sharing information and experience about what works in preventing youth and gang violence, this effort will create stronger, more promising outcomes for young people,” said Michelle Nunn, CEO, Points of Light. “These VISTAs will support efforts to provide communities with tools and resources to more effectively stop the cycle of violence.”

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty and related issues. Members commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, and strengthen community groups. The program was founded in 1964, and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network in 1993.

The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention was launched by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education at the direction of President Obama in October 2010. The Forum acts as a network of communities and federal agencies that work together, share information, and build local capacity to prevent and reduce youth violence. Other federal partners include the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Service, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The Forum seeks to elevate youth and gang violence as an issue of national significance, enhance the capacity of participating localities, as well as others across eh country to more effectively prevent youth and gang violence, and sustain progress and systems change through engagement, alignment and assessment. More information about the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention can be found here.


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Samantha Jo Warfield
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