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Millions in Anti-gang, Pro-youth Funding Coming to the Bronx

In a sweeping block of funding dedicated to a range of services designed to answer on-going calls to address root causes of gang violence and provide mental health support and youth engagement resources, the State of New York has pledged a whopping $18.4 million for the Bronx.

At a press conference on Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo dedicated monies for community centers, after school and evening programs, and $8 million for Roberto Clemente State Park’s youth programs and facilities.

Roberto Clemente State Park is going to get an $8 million upgrade (photo: NYC Parks and Recreation Department)

News 12 the Bronx reported on it…

Here’s the full announcement from the Governor’s office, complete with details for where the funding is targeted:

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES $18.4 MILLION INVESTMENT TO IMPROVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH IN THE BRONX

  • $500,000 for After School and Evening Programming in Targeted Areas
  •  $1 Million to Improve Community Centers
  • Investment Supports Anti-Violence Youth Engagement, Mental Health Funding and Anti-Gang Operations
  •  $8 Million to Triple the Number of Youth Served by Programming at Roberto Clemente State Park – Highlighted by State Parks and Major League Baseball Youth Baseball and Softball Academy 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a sweeping, $19 million investment to improve opportunities for youth in the Bronx. The unprecedented, multi-pronged investment in community centers, anti-violence engagement and education, youth employment, mental health funding, anti-gang programs, and community baseball will provide greater opportunities and help reduce violence affecting Bronx youth. The Governor was joined by Bronx community leaders to announce this holistic approach to targeting community violence and improving the lives of young New Yorkers in the Bronx.

“The murder of Junior Guzman-Feliz is a heartbreaking loss to his family and to his community, but it is also a call to action for the rest of us to strike back at the causes and conditions that produce violence,” Governor Cuomo said. “This aggressive, multi-pronged investment is in direct response to the voices of the leaders and the community in the Bronx to ensure that the state is most effectively helping this community combat violence and giving young people opportunities to thrive.” 

$1 Million for Vital Community Center Repairs and Upgrades

The Governor announced the state will provide up to $1 million to the Police Athletic League, Webster Center and the Madison Boys & Girls Club – Columbus Clubhouse Community Centers, which were identified by the community and local elected officials as having the most needs and supporting the most youth in the target area. This funding aims to provide safe and engaging after school and evening activities in facilities that are well-maintained. These investments will support vital upgrades to the infrastructure and programming of these communities.  

$500,000 for Evening Programming and After School Funding in Targeted Areas

The Governor also announced the state is investing $250,000 to support nighttime recreational and educational to an additional 150 youth at the Webster Center. 

Programming includes:

  • After school sports, academic enrichment, arts, nutrition, tech
  • Summer camp with sports, academic enrichment, arts, field trips
  • Teen programming with intramural sports, social center, dance, computer lab, game room
  • Target underserved youth ages 6 – 19
  • All programs free of charge

In addition, Governor Cuomo announced a $250,000 state investment in after school programming for Bronx schools and community centers located in areas with increased rates of crime and violence.

These additional slots will be made available for the upcoming school year. This expanded initiative will keep young people engaged in sports, music, and other educational programming during after school hours and help deter any potential gang activity or involvement and builds on the Governor’s already historic commitment to after school funding in the Bronx, including investing over $13 million per year.

$250,000 for Anti-Violence Youth Engagement and Peer Education

The Governor announced a $250,000 state investment to support anti-violence youth development in the Bronx through a partnership with community-based organizations, schools, and other providers.  This engagement and education support will be targeted toward reducing violence in the schools and areas that have the highest rates of crime and gang activity. Through local providers, this funding will support programs that train young people to be peer educators and leaders in their community and schools against violence and gang involvement.  These trained participants will lead community service projects and serve as mentors to other youth. The funding will also be used to connect young people most directly exposed to gun violence with public and mental health services to address the trauma associated with their experiences.

$175,000 Community School Funding, including Mental Health

As part of the FY 2018 Budget, PS 163 received $150,000 to begin community school activities through state funding. Through the FY 2019 Budget, the Governor will invest an additional $25,000 to provide mental health support to youth who have been impacted by trauma.

Expanding Anti-Gang Operations through State Police and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Growth in the number of gang-involved individuals within the criminal justice system has prompted state and local agencies to create specific units to reduce gang-related crime and recruitment. In the Bronx, there are over 4,500 parolees assigned to area offices with nearly 10 percent identified as previously gang-affiliated. In fact, New York City’s Department of Correction estimates that more than one in ten incarcerated individuals is a known gang member. To help curb the recent increases in violent crime in the Bronx, the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will expand their anti-gang operations in partnership with the New York City Department of Correction and Police Department.

 DOCCS will share gang intelligence information with the local agencies to curb gang violence in the streets and behind bars.The Department will direct nearly 100 Bronx Parole Officers, Office of Special Investigations investigators, and Crisis Intervention Unit members to monitor parolees for gang involvement, conduct unannounced home visits and curfew checks, impose special conditions as warranted, and offer community-based services for recently-released individuals to discourage gang involvement. The State Police are also increasing their information-sharing of violent gang intelligence through five investigators at the New York State Intelligence Center to improve coordination among law enforcement agencies, inform law enforcement strategies, and develop future criminal cases for prosecution 

$8 Million to Reimagine Roberto Clemente State Park Youth Programming and Facilities

The Governor also announced $8 million to reimagine Roberto Clemente State Park youth programming and facilities. The existing and deteriorated gymnasium will be renovated into a fieldhouse with a refurbished basketball court for newly created local basketball leagues, new fitness center outfitted with weights, strength and fitness equipment, and improved and expanded multi-purpose classrooms for tutoring, chess and fitness.

The newly improved and created athletic fields and outdoor facilities will feature new batting cages, new dugouts on the main baseball field, new electronic scoreboards, installation of lighting for night-time play, re-sodding and an updated irrigation system and new equipment such as field striping machine, portable soccer goals, football line markers, and base and mound covers for the baseball diamond.

A partnership between New York State, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Dream Academy will create a youth baseball and softball academy. This fall, the academy will begin to serve at least 1,500 youth at Roberto Clemente State Park, tripling the number currently participating in the park’s baseball programs. The renovated baseball and softball facility is being funded collaboratively by the State, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and will be renamed the MLB Youth Academy at Roberto Clemente State Park. 

 This expanded youth programming initiative supports the $46.5 million transformation of Roberto Clemente State Park that features rehabilitation of the lower plaza that will activate a better mix of activities including performance space, new waterfront promenade, and new intertidal area that provides safe access to the Harlem River to offer environmental education programming for urban youth. The transformation is set to be fully complete in 2019.

$5.5 Million for Outdoor Youth Camps in New York State Parks 

New York State Parks will invest $5.5 million in 2018-19 to revitalize outdoor summer youth camps at Harriman State Park and the Taconic Outdoor Education Center in Fahnestock State Park. The outdoor youth camp facilities provide children from underserved communities both overnight and day-camp experiences the outdoors, but have fallen into disrepair following many decades of deterioration. The funding will rehabilitate recreational facilities such as cabins, trails and docks that support popular camp activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, while also investing in critical infrastructure improvements such as drinking water supplies, electrical systems, wastewater treatment systems. The Harriman Group Camps and TOEC serve 18,000 children annually, providing a haven for such Bronx and New York City-based service organizations as the Coalition for the Homeless; Homes for the Homeless; Boys & Girls Club of New York, and the Camp Mosholu Day Camps. The funding will help renovate, repair and open five facilities and cabins, serving up to 500 additional youth. 

$1 Million for State Park Field Trips

Governor Cuomo announced $1 million is now available for the third-year of the Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant Program. This field trip refund grant program connects New York schoolchildren with nature and New York State history. Connect Kids will refund up to $1,000 of the field trip costs for visits to a New York State Park, Nature Center, or Historic Site, or a Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Education Center, fish hatchery, or selected DEC sites. To date, the program has funded field trips for more than 1,000 Bronx children. Schools and youth programs can apply here.

$2 Million in My Brother’s Keeper Funding

The Bronx was recently awarded $2 million in My Brother’s Keeper funding for Family and Community Engagement Funds and the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge Program. These funds will support the development of Family Resource Centers in Bronx Community School Districts.

Congressman José Serrano said, “I am proud to support this important investment in our youth and security. Governor Cuomo continues to give voice to residents throughout this region, and by committing resources and funding to help combat gangs and end the scourge of violence this city has faced, we will build a better tomorrow for the next generation of New Yorkers.”

Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has shown a clear commitment to combating gang violence and creating safer communities for children and families throughout New York. As I continue to have discussions withlocal district attorneys and law enforcement to address the issues of gang violence in the Bronx, I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo to increase our efforts to create a safe and secure environment for our children and families.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “We as a community must continue to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our youth. Investments in our community centers, after-school programs and educational mental health services combined with initiatives such as My Brother’s Keeper, the MLB Youth Academy and outdoor youth camps assist in ensuring that our young people have positive outlets that are accessible. As public servants, we must continue to fund programs that promote progress and academic achievement as they present opportunities for one of our most vulnerable groups – at risk and disadvantaged youth. As a community we must empower this generation of children so they have the ability to realize their full potential.”

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo said, Junior’s death highlights the work that remains to curb the scourge of gang violence. But Junior did not die in vain. Today leaders like Governor Cuomo and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., are stepping up and saying we are listening, we care, and we are going to do something. In the wake of this tragedy we are standing together and saying in one voice, gang violence has no place in the Bronx. We taking action to fight back and keep our young people safe.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “Governor Cuomo is making an historic investment in Bronx communities and sending a clear signal that New York stands with the Bronx. Since day one, Governor Cuomo has been there for our communities, and this investment is yet another testament to his commitment to the Bronx. The Governor understands that there is nothing more important than our young people, and together we are going to ensure they have the opportunities they need and deserve to succeed.”

Council Member Ritchie Torres said, “In order to keep our children off the street and out of trouble, we must provide them with new opportunities to keep them engaged and help their growth. Governor Cuomo’s multi-pronged investment plan does just that—fostering an environment that invests in a number of safe and engaging after-school programs. I thank the governor for his dedication to our children and to the Bronx.”

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