Youth Advocate Programs Leverages National Capacity to Help Cities Disrupt Violence - Article Details
02Feb

Youth Advocate Programs Leverages National Capacity to Help Cities Disrupt Violence

A national nonprofit that earned its reputation for delivering effective community-based services as an alternative to youth incarceration is increasing its capacity to help U.S. cities reform their public safety systems. Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. has created a National Office of Violence Prevention to provide local support and oversight and national program collaboration as it launches innovative public safety services across the U.S.

The new function will be headed by National Director of Violence Prevention Fred Fogg, a YAP Assistant Vice President who has built and led more than a dozen of the nonprofit’s youth justice and child welfare programs. Fogg will work closely with YAP Baltimore and D.C. Regional Program Director Craig Jernigan, who launched the nonprofit’s Baltimore Safe Streets and Group Violence Reduction programs and its Washington, D.C. Credible Messenger violence prevention services.

YAP, which partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, intellectual disabilities, and other social services to provide neighborhood-based wraparound and behavioral health services, is experiencing considerable growth in its violence interruption and prevention work. The nonprofit, which is currently in 32 states and the District of Columbia, hires culturally competent neighborhood-based Advocates and behavioral health specialists to help youth see their strengths and connect them and their families with tools to achieve their goals.

“With our 46-year history of working with the highest risk young people and families facing complex challenges, YAP has the infrastructure for helping communities implement innovative public safety programs,” said YAP President Gary Ivory. “Our new Violence Prevention program leadership structure will enable us to leverage our anti-violence experience and best practices to ensure that our local site leaders have guidance and support with opportunities to collaborate and share best practices.”

YAP recently joined forces with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, S.C. in a successful bid for Department of Justice grant funds to implement ‘Lowcountry Rising Above Violence.’ The program will provide wraparound services to high-risk youth in the community and complements MUSC’s hospital violence intervention program, which provides wraparound services to victims of violence. The work comes on the heels of YAP’s launch in 2021 of new anti-violence services in Baltimore, Dallas and Charlotte, N.C. (a partnership with the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Cure Violence Global). In 2021, the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools funded YAP to expand Choose 2 Change (C2C), the nonprofit’s anti-violence partnership with Children’s Home & Aid, which the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab found reduces violent crime arrests by 48 percent.

“I’m excited to join YAP’s expanding group of neighborhood-based violence interruption leaders to support their efforts to use a combination of evidence-based models, including our own, to make their communities safer,” Fogg said. “Our priority, along with delivering great outcomes is ensuring the safety of our teams and their neighbors – the young people and families they serve.”

In addition to supporting new local YAP violence interruption leaders, Fogg will support the nonprofit’s efforts to work with cities to implement innovative programs and services that address their communities’ unique needs. Jernigan will provide training, facilitate best-practice sharing and ensure that staff receive the support they need in managing vicarious trauma and other day-to-day realities of safely working to reduce violence while connecting individuals and families with tools they need to thrive. Jernigan will also help programs integrate components of YAP Supported Work neighborhood business partnerships and YAPWORX employment readiness services developed and delivered for the nonprofit by social capital solutions consultant Ed DeJesus. Among the YAP resources available to Fogg and Jernigan are other experienced leaders, including YAP Chief Program Officer Stephanie Hart, who helped oversee the launch of the nonprofit’s Chicago violence prevention efforts.

“Having multiple programs puts YAP at a real advantage when it comes to keeping our neighborhoods safe,” Jernigan said. “With the growth we’re experiencing with these new violence interruption initiatives, this new structure will enhance our teams’ ability to make our local communities and our nation safer for everyone.”

Guided by the nonprofit’s “no reject, no eject” policy, YAP’s decades of service include working with many young people whose histories include serious offenses, multiple arrests, and lengthy out-of-home placements. John Jay College of Criminal Justice research found 86 percent of YAP’s youth justice participants remain arrest free, and six – 12 months after completing the program, nearly 90 percent of the youth still lived in their communities with less than five percent of participants in secure placement. Learn more about YAP at www.yapinc.org.

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Kelly D. Williams,
Chief Communications Officer
kdwilliams@yapinc.org

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