New Settlement to lead NYS Bronx Anti-Gun Violence Initiative

Kids at the Bronx Anti-Gun Violence Initiative opening event.
Photos courtesy New Settlement

Nonprofit New Settlement announced Tuesday it has been selected by New York State to lead the Bronx Anti-Gun Violence Initiative, which will engage young people from high-risk, violence-prone neighborhoods in the Bronx in constructive afterschool youth development, sports, health, career and counseling programs, reaching more than 600 local families.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services awarded a $250,000 grant, which will support a multi-pronged effort by New Settlement and two colleague organizations – the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club of Castle Hill and the Northeast Bronx YMCA – to increase community based services that will inspire youth to engage in positive activities, build employment readiness and leadership skills and support the reduction of gun violence. Through this funding, New Settlement is launching the Passport Program for Young Men, a new initiative that will engage young men in Bronx communities.

“Communities both locally and across New York City are facing a gun violence crisis, and it’s imperative that we implement constructive programming that will directly reach young people and ultimately tackle this issue,” said Rigaud Noel, executive director of New Settlement. “We are grateful to New York State for recognizing this urgent need in our communities. This grant will enable us to expand and strengthen our core programs to serve hundreds more youth, and we are proud to collaborate with the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club of Castle Hill and the Northeast Bronx YMCA on this important initiative for our Bronx neighborhoods.”

The Passport Program for Young Men – which will begin on Nov.  15 and serve 150 youth – will infuse life skills, current events, arts and culture with a focus on leadership development, team building and college and career readiness, and will feature one-on-one counseling with a focus on social-emotional learning, as well as college visits and leadership retreats. The organization is also expanding its Program for Girls and Young Women, which focuses on prioritizing emotional health, college and career guidance, leadership development and more. Youth from both programs will speak to younger students and afterschool groups on preventing violence in their communities.

“The impact of gun violence upon all New Yorkers is incalculable and it has taken far too many lives,” said Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. “The best solution is to invest in our youth so that they are inspired to reach their full potential and have the resources needed to build their skills. New Settlement’s Passport Program for Young Men is designed to meet those needs and the $250,000 in state funding it is receiving is a valuable investment in the lives of young men of color here in the Bronx. I want to thank Gov. Hochul for making this commitment to our community.

“When youth have access to a safe space where they can positively engage with their peers and enjoy enriching programs, they are more likely to experience increased self-esteem, become motivated to rise above violence and negative influences, and ultimately lead a path toward success. Our youth programs will create an environment where adolescents can build valuable life skills and recognize their full potential.”

The grant will also enable New Settlement to expand its community based programs at its Community Campus, which is located at 1501 Jerome Ave., and features a state-of-the-art community center with a swimming pool, community garden, professional-grade dance studio, cooking classroom and multipurpose room, as well as three public schools serving 1,100 K-12 students.

Expanded programming includes: the aquatics center, with programs in swimming, water safety and lifeguard certification; health and wellness initiatives designed for teens; dance and movement classes; food and nutrition, which includes opportunities for youth to operate New Settlement’s 170 Farm Stand and help manage the community rooftop garden and food pantry; and workforce readiness, which features a workshop series in career exploration, financial literacy and more.