Phipps youth develop crime watch website

Phipps Bulldogs members (l-r) Sydasia Stephens, Christopher Rhem and Joshua McCutchen attended an Allstate Foundation gala in Chicago. The Allstate Foundation is funding the website the youth group is creating.
Photo courtesy of Allstate Foundation

Soundview youth are creating a website to improve the quality of life in their community.

Phipps Neighborhoods Sonia Sotomayor Bulldogs, a group of young people between the fifth and 12th grades, are in the process of developing a website called Community Watch.

It will allow residents to anonymously submit information concerning crime, land use and misuse, homelessness, poverty and violence.

The website is currently being coded and built by 24 youngsters in the program, said Yeremi Rosario, Phipps program coordinator for the youth group.

The Allstate Foundation provided a $2,000 grant for the project, and three program members recently traveled to Chicago to represent Phipps and make a pitch to Peace First, a part of the foundation, Rosario said.

“This has been a way to show that kids can take initiative,” said Rosario. “We’ve seen a rise in teens bettering and helping the community.”

He said that he expects the coding to be done by early November, and after designing the site, which is likely to include an interactive map of Soundview, it should be operational by December.

Rosario stressed that the young people are doing all of the work.

“We did not want to create a website for the kids,” he said. “We wanted this to be 100 percent the kids’ website.”

They are currently working on coding for the site using Google software, said Rosario.

The Sonia Sotomayor Bulldogs have a number of partners, including the 43rd Precinct and Community Board 9, he said.

The website sprang out of a successful effort by the Bulldogs where they created an anonymous crime tip phone line that encourages callers to submit tips concerning possible criminal activity.

That effort, called the Community Watch Project, has an active hotline that receives as many as eight crime tips per day, according to Phipps.

The process of developing the site will help the children make their own decisions, which aside from its practical use, is very valuable, said a Phipps spokesman.

Once complete, the Community Watch site will be updated every two days by the team as they get tips from the community, said Rosario.

He believes that the lessons they learn in this project will help them take initiative in all areas of their lives, said Rosario.

The Sonia Sotomayor Bulldogs are funded by the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Young Men’s Initiative, a mentoring program, said Rosario.

Laura Freveletti, senior program manager at The Allstate Foundation, said that the organization is committed “to empowering youth to step up as leaders in their communities and realize their full potential, while addressing pressing social issues.”

“Young people, like the inspiring Phipps Neighborhoods Sonia Sotomayor Bulldogs, have the passion and vision to make a positive difference in society,” she said. “As members of society, we need to listen to them and encourage them to keep reaching for the stars.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

More from Around NYC