WPB Mayor’s Vil­lage Ini­tia­tive im­prov­ing out­comes in North End

South Florida Times - - METRO -

Cour­tesy of West Palm Beach In­sider Newsletter

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Cre­at­ing op­por­tu­nity and re­duc­ing vi­o­lence for young peo­ple re­mains a top pri­or­ity for Mayor Jeri Muoio and the City of West Palm Beach.

Un­der the lead­er­ship of Muoio, Co­or­di­na­tor of Com­mu­nity Ini­tia­tives Kevin Jones launched The Mayor’s Vil­lage Ini­tia­tive to fo­cus on the chal­lenges fac­ing young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly black boys and young men in spe­cific ar­eas of the city.

Right now, the ini­tia­tive’s fo­cus is on young peo­ple liv­ing in the city’s North End. The “vil­lage” con­sists of gov­ern­ment agen­cies, busi­nesses, con­cerned cit­i­zens, the faith com­mu­nity, non-prof­its, phi­lan­thropists and schools. The city acts as an um­brella to pull to­gether its vast re­sources to help ad­dress this is­sue.

Dur­ing a re­cent Mayor/Com­mis­sion Work Ses­sion, Jones up­dated com­mis­sion­ers on the ini­tia­tive’s progress and de­tailed the cur­rent pro­grams un­der the Mayor’s Vil­lage Ini­tia­tive. They in­clude: Com­mu­nity and Po­lice Dial

ogues/Kids and Cops Work­shops: The Com­mu­nity and Po­lice di­a­logues con­sist of four to five week con­ver­sa­tions be­tween po­lice of­fi­cers, com­mu­nity res­i­dents and com­mu­nity so­cial ser­vice providers.

The Kids and Cops Work­shops are op­por­tu­ni­ties for the youth to express their thoughts and feel­ings about their re­la­tion­ships with law en­force­ment. Ad­di­tion­ally, it al­lows the young men to hear from po­lice of­fi­cers about their roles in the com­mu­nity. The goal of th­ese work­shops is to build re­la­tion­ships and im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween youth and law en­force­ment.

Work­force De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram: The goal of this pro­gram is to con­nect black res­i­dents to em­ploy­ment and to as­sist them in over­com­ing any bar­ri­ers to ob­tain­ing em­ploy­ment. Ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, com­mu­nity groups and mem­bers of the pri­vate sec­tor sup­port this pro­gram. Many jobs re­quire train­ing, and the goal is to make train­ing avail­able for the res­i­dents know­ing that – at the end of their train­ing – a job is wait­ing. Neigh­bor­hood Ac­count­abil­ity Board (NAB): Fa­cil­i­tated out of the Pleas­ant City Youth Em­pow­er­ment Cen­ter, the goal of NAB is for first-time mis­de­meanor ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers to re­pair the harm that was caused in the com­mu­nity. Based on the prin­ci­ples of restora­tive jus­tice, a

con­fer­ence of the of­fender, their par­ents, the vic­tim (if they want to at­tend), and a board of trained neigh­bor­hood vol­un­teers ad­dress the of­fense and agree on ap­pro­pri­ate sanc­tions. The youth has ap­prox­i­mately 90 days to suc­cess­fully com­plete their as­signed sanc­tions so that the of­fense will not be on their record. Op­er­a­tion Youth Vi­o­lence: Re­duc­tion, In­ter ven­tion and Pre­ven­tion (RIP): De­vel­oped by the West Palm Beach Po­lice De­part­ment, this pro­gram pro­vides first time felony of­fend­ers ages 13-24 with the nec­es­sary re­sources and men­tor­ing in hopes that they will be­come pro­duc­tive mem­bers of the com­mu­nity. Th­ese youth are of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to en­roll in GED pro­grams, job readi­ness cour­ses, coun­sel­ing and sub­si­dized em­ploy­ment. Th­ese ser­vices are pro­vided through the Ur­ban League of Palm Beach County and the Pleas­ant City Youth Em­pow­er­ment Cen­ter.

Peace in the Streets Walks: Each month, con­cerned cit­i­zens, elected of­fi­cials and WPBPD walk three dis­tinct neigh­bor­hoods in the North End to pro­mote Peace in the Streets and to en­gage with res­i­dents. This is an op­por­tu­nity for di­a­logue on how to col­lec­tively make com­mu­ni­ties in West Palm Beach safer.

“Im­prov­ing the lives of our youths should be a top pri­or­ity for ev­ery­one liv­ing in our city,” said Muoio. “Whether you are a res­i­dent or a business owner, I in­vite you to join us in help­ing to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties that will lead to a bet­ter fu­ture for young men and women in West Palm Beach.”

To date, the city has em­ployed 20 in­di­vid­u­als through the part­ner­ship it has with Ur­ban League.

“We have helped guide many young African Amer­i­can res­i­dents in our city to­ward eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties, not only in city de­part­ments but also in lo­cal busi­nesses,” said Jones. “We want to con­tinue that. Ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties are so im­por­tant.”

Cur­rently, the Mayor’s Of­fice is work­ing to strate­gi­cally align coun­ty­wide ini­tia­tives with the Mayor’s Vil­lage Ini­tia­tive. The Mayor’s Vil­lage Ini­tia­tive is part of a larger na­tional ini­tia­tive called Cities United and is spon­sored by the Na­tional League of Cities. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.citiesunited.org.

Business own­ers in­ter­ested in pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing in­tern­ships, can con­tact Jones at 561-822-1413.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WEST PALM BEACH IN­SIDER NEWSLETTER

An of­fi­cer in­ter­acts with youth in West Palm Beach.

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