Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)
Trenton RISE (Resilience Increases Success & Excellence) is a youth violence prevention/intervention plan and uses the culturally specific Empowerment Based Youth Development Model (EMPYD) by Travis and Leech as its framework to address the ongoing epidemic of youth violence in the City of Trenton. This evidence-based model focuses on seven dimensions (competence, confidence, connection, caring, character, sense of community, and engaged citizenship) that lead to positive youth development. The model has been shown to work well for youths of color as the last two dimensions, sense of community and engaged citizenship, work to address some of the structural and social inequalities (socioeconomic inequalities, access to resources, the school to prison pipeline, school quality) that sometimes impede youths of color.
The program has four main goals: 1.) To strengthen risk and resiliency factors among participants by providing multi-disciplinary, innovative, evidence-based programming designed to reduce crime perpetrated against and by minority youths within the City of Trenton. 2.) To increase cultural competence of service providers (teachers, police officers, and social service providers) working with youths within the City of Trenton. 3.) To significantly improve the academic performance of enrolled youth according to specific data points (attendance, GPA, promotion to next grade). 4.) To significantly reduce youth disciplinary actions among enrolled youths.
Engaging youth in empowering, culturally relevant and community-based activities exposes them to different perspectives, provides leadership development, and also provides alternatives to street activities. This program will also significantly increase the Trauma Informed skills of Police Officers and Recreation and program staff to help them find appropriate ways to approach and react to youth who may have experienced trauma.