“We Are Not Lost Causes”

In Rochester, NY, the Center for Teen Empowerment, a nonprofit that trains youth in community organizing, personal development, and anti-violence, is working to bring kids off the street and into safety. The program, which started in Boston, is centered on four ideas: jobs (paying the youth hired as organizers), teamwork, agency (letting them build their own activist agendas), and peer influence. While hard to evaluate because of its situational, qualitative nature, city officials, including law enforcement, point to the program as a factor in the decrease in violence across the city.

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