Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $997,351)
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin’s proposed project design is built on the foundational element of trusted community mentors (“Credible Messengers”) with lived experience in the justice system as youth and/or adults who connect with youth, families, and the community to prevent and interrupt group and community-based violence. These Credible Messengers will:
Respond to individual and community-level trauma;
Increase community resiliency and reinforce safety; and
Advocate for racial equity and positive youth development at the system level to improve health outcomes.
The Credible Messengers national model of transformative mentoring is recognized as an effective Community Violence Intervention (CVI) strategy. The primary activities of the Credible Messengers in this project include:
Engaging with youth and families on a consistent basis to increase protective factors through increasing youth participation in prosocial relationships, prosocial activities, cognitive skill development; and other individualized supportive services;
Developing growth-focused individualized plans for program participants;
Participating in regular youth/family team meetings;
Conducting staffing sessions for youth who are demonstrating behavior that increases their risk to participate in violence;
Completing ongoing professional training and maintaining certification; and
Collecting and submitting data for regular analysis and performance improvement.
Based on DYFS data, over 90% of the youth who will benefit from this project will be living in neighborhoods of high poverty. Approximately 75% of the youth will be African American, 12% Latino/Latina; 5% White; and 3% Asian American. Approximately 75% of the youth will be cis-gender boys, 20% cis-gender girls, and 5% transgender youth. Approximately 50% will be living with a mental illness or physical disability.