To hear Bob Woodson speak is to be convinced that there is an effective way to mitigate youth violence. And on Monday, Woodson, President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, will kick-off Presenting the Evidence: A Successful Solution to Youth Violence.
During the late 1970s, Woodson was influenced by the example of a family in Philadelphia who had opened their home to gang members as a place to live, reconcile differences, and begin a new life in the workforce or school. By 1981, Woodson had founded the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise to provide tactical assistance to other neighborhood leaders and catalytic groups in violence-plagued cities throughout the country. After an epidemic of gang violence in the Northern Virginia area in 2005, Woodson wrote in The Washington Post:
…my organization and a courageous grass-roots group called the Alliance of Concerned Men negotiated a truce between rival groups in Benning Terrace, where some 53 youth deaths had occurred in the previous two years in a five-square-block area. The truce was followed by a program of life skills and counseling, and D.C. Public Housing Receiver David Gilmore offered employment training and jobs. The key to this program has been the involvement of individuals such as those in the alliance — men who were once part of the problem and now wanted to become positive influences on young people there.
Almost nine years on, there have been no crew-related deaths in Benning Terrace, and we have adapted the model in four other cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas and Milwaukee. We look for a catalytic neighborhood organization and infuse it with technical assistance. In each city, we’ve established Violence-Free Zones in some of the most violence-plagued schools, where youth advisers undergo training to become hall monitors, mentors and character coaches.
Woodon’s Violence Free Zone (VFZ) program, and the young people whose lives have been forever changed as a result of it, will be the subject of Monday’s conference. The event will be moderated by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Clarence Page, syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune.
The event will also feature presentations by Milwaukee Superintendent of Schools William Andrekopoulos, Baylor University Director of Prosocial Behavior Dr. Byron Johnson, and others, as well as student testimonials.
Presenting the Evidence: A Successful Solution to Youth Violence will take place on Monday, November 16, from 10:00 – 2:00 at the Georgetown Ballroom, Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, 815 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC. 20036. For more information on the event or the work of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, please visit www.cneonline.org. To RSVP for the event, email [email protected] or call 866-518-6500.