Attorney General Eric Holder recognized six cities for their progress in preventing youth violence at the second annual summit of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, held in Washington, DC, on April 23, 2012. Cities participating in the forum include Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, CA, and San Jose, CA. The Attorney General was joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske at the summit.
In his remarks before summit participants, the Attorney General announced preliminary plans to expand the forum to four additional cities through a competitive application process administered by OJJDP. The Attorney General also announced the launch of an online toolkit that provides resources on how to gather and use data on youth violence, identify community assets, develop measurable objectives, and create and implement plans.
"Our goal is to expand the national conversation about youth violence and its impact on our homes and communities," said Attorney General Holder. "The Department is committed to working with our partners to create and sustain strategies to prevent this violence and keep our youth and communities safe."
OJJDP Acting Administrator Melodee Hanes announced that in fiscal year 2012, OJJDP will award capacity-building grants to forum cities to implement or enhance their local youth violence prevention plans over the next 2 years. In addition, in the next few weeks, OJJDP will issue a competitive solicitation to expand the forum to four additional cities.
"The goal is to create and implement local plans that include prevention, intervention, enforcement, and reentry," said Hanes. "Our hope is that the four new cities will benefit from everything that the six original forum cities have learned."
Launched in 2010 at the direction of President Obama, the forum is a network of communities and federal agencies working together to share information and build local capacity to prevent and reduce youth violence. A recent, independent, interim assessment of the forum's work in participating cities, conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Temple University's Department of Criminal Justice indicated promising results and progress to date.
During the summit, mayors from the six cities presented their successes and challenges in addressing youth violence in their communities. Thirteen youth from various cities also led discussions and provided recommendations on how to prevent youth violence in their communities.
Other forum speakers included Congressman Robert C. Scott, forum Mayors Dennis Donohue (Salinas), Rahm Emanuel (Chicago), Chuck Reed (San Jose), A C Wharton (Memphis) as well as Mayors Michael Nutter (Philadelphia) and Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles), and representatives from Target Corporation, Casey Family Programs, and other business, faith, and philanthropic leaders.
On April 4, 2012, the White House recognized 12 forum representatives as "Champions of Change" at an awards ceremony held at the White House. The 12 were honored as local leaders who have made a difference in their communities through their youth violence prevention efforts.
The Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Labor and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy are the forum's federal partners. Participating cities are selected based on need, geographic diversity, and willingness and capacity to undertake comprehensive efforts that are the hallmark of the forum.
More details about the forum, summaries of the city plans, a strategic planning toolkit, and details on how to apply to participate in the forum are available at FindYouthInfo.gov. (Videos of the 2-day summit will be available in the coming weeks.)
A blog posted in advance of the summit by Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor, is available on the White House Web site.
A blog about the forum event posted by Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, is available on the Department of Justice Web site. Remarks made at the summit by Attorney General Holder may also be accessed at the Department of Justice Web site.