Mayor Wu Announces City's Plan for a Safe, Healthy, and Active Summer in Boston

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Mayor Michelle Wu today announced the City of Boston's comprehensive plan for a safe, healthy, and active summer in all Boston neighborhoods. This year's summer safety plan will serve as the foundation for the City's ongoing, year-round efforts to address the root causes of violence through a public health lens, and create the conditions for community healing. Mayor Wu also announced the City's first Plan to End Violence, a long-term, sustainable, data-driven, and visionary approach aimed at ending violence holistically and year-round through revamped commitment to community engagement and centering lived experiences of residents most impacted by violence.

"This summer will be filled with opportunities for young people and families to stay active and engaged in community," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "This year's summer safety plan will serve as a critical step in moving forward for our work year-round to make sure our communities are safe, with coordinated activities across city departments for supports, resources, and fun."

In an effort to ensure the City's summer safety efforts across departments best reflect the needs of Boston residents, the Mayor's Community Safety Team prioritized community engagement by hosting three rounds of engagement sessions to design, refine, and preview this year's summer safety plan in partnership with neighborhoods. From February through May, the team hosted 27 meetings in BCYF community centers across nine neighborhoods, resulting in the most extensive community engagement strategy in the City's history that informed the creation of the summer safety plan.

"Preventing violence is a year round priority, but we have short term work to do and have Summer-specific challenges to strategize around," said Isaac Yablo, Senior Advisor for Community Safety. "This is why we worked hand-in-hand with the community to build this cross-departmental, data-driven, evidence-informed, humanity-centered plan that is truly, 'for community, by community.'"

This summer, the City is focused on scaling up programming in key areas, ensuring neighborhoods are supported, strengthening violence intervention and prevention efforts, and reinvesting into communities across Boston that are most impacted by violence. Additionally, City departments are working closely with the Boston Police Department (BPD) to identify and focus violence reduction efforts in "opportunity zones," areas that have historically experienced a higher rate of violence. BPD will provide a positive police presence in locations where violence is concentrated and supplement the City's ongoing efforts to engage individuals at the highest risk for violence. To improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods, BPD will also coordinate closely with various agencies to address large-scale congregating and disturbances with a safe, preventative approach.

"Building Trust is the single most important piece of our overall strategy for public safety in Boston year-round. It's what Community Policing is based on and it is what addressing and solving criminal activity is built on. We are a data-driven Department, but we know that partnerships are crucial to reducing crime and bettering our ability to address crimes that occur," said Commissioner Michael Cox, Boston Police Department. "During the summer months there are more daylight hours, kids are out of school and there are more opportunities for encounters that in some cases lead to violence. We are focused on creating additional proactive, positive engagement opportunities for our officers in the Community. This includes working with our partners like the Mayor's Violence Reduction Team, as well as YouthConnect and our BEST clinicians, to address the needs of individuals who may be vulnerable in our communities. BPD also continues to focus considerable attention on addressing what we call revelers. Those on off-road vehicles and 'speaker cars' that create unsafe situations and seriously impact the lives of our residents. We are also actively engaged in a working group focused on moped activity across our City.  We thank the public and the business community for their partnership and support of our efforts to address these issues."

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Youth and Summer Job Programs

In addition to scaling up programs to address root causes of violence, Mayor Wu remains committed to expanding career pathways and connecting young people across neighborhoods to opportunity. This commitment is highlighted by the Mayor's Youth Job Guarantee, a commitment by the City that every BPS student has access to a paid summer job.

The City is now accepting applications for futureBOS, the 2024 Summer Youth Employment Program, including all Successlink job opportunities for Boston youth and young adults ages 14-24. Young people that are interested can now find summer job opportunities through futureBOS, the newly redesigned webpage hub for all youth employment opportunities throughout the City. There is a step-by-step guide available online to help youth navigate the application process and job applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Youth can also visit the office in person, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1483 Tremont Street in Roxbury, or call 617-635-4202 for additional assistance. For more information, visit boston.gov/futureBOS.

Boston Public Schools is also committed to ensuring that students have access to necessary resources throughout the summer, and provides a number of programs for BPS students and families across the city. For a full range of existing programs, visit www.bostonpublicschools.org/summer.

"We are thrilled to support Mayor Wu's vision for a fun, vibrant and safe summer in the City," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. "Our schools are committed to providing students with enriching summer programs and resources that foster learning, engagement, and community connection. By collaborating closely with city departments and community partners, we aim to ensure that our students have access to meaningful opportunities that contribute to their continued growth during the summer months."

Each summer, departments within the Human Services cabinet, including Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) and the Office of Youth Engagement & Advancement (OYEA), serve thousands of youth and families, engaging youth in a variety of programs, community events, and employment opportunities. This summer, Human Services is adding three new strategies to offer additional event programming and resources to youth, addressing gaps in its current framework.

First is a Boston After Dark Friday evening series held in collaboration with partner organizations, with events on Friday nights, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., from June 21 through August 30.. Secondly, Human Services will add programming and activities for teens in the weeks between school and summer jobs, at the beginning and end of summer break. Finally, new this summer, BCYF is partnering with the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to bring Franciscan Children's counselors into a select number of BCYF community centers over the summer to provide behavioral health therapy groups for youth starting in July. In addition, OYEA will be relaunching the YouthLine, a comprehensive set of resources for youth.

This additional programming builds on BCYF's existing summer programming, OYEA's summer events, and BCYF's teen engagement. More information can be found at www.boston.gov/youth. 

Adopt A Block

Building on the Mayor's commitment to address the root causes of violence, the City is also ramping up the "Adopt A Block'' initiative, a partnership between the City of Boston and various faith communities to serve residents and families in neighborhoods that have historically experienced an increase in violence during the summer months. This initiative will  also feature Unity Walks starting in June and ending in August. These walks will bring residents of all faiths together to walk their neighborhood, connect with neighbors, and serve as an opportunity to ensure communities are safe through connection and solidarity.

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This initiative aims to build trust between the City and residents, strengthen relationships between the City and critical faith organizations, provide opportunities for community engagement, and improve delivery of City services to families most impacted by violence.

Summer 2024 Unity Walk Schedule:

Thursday, June 13 - 6:00 p.m.

Malcolm X Park, 131 Dale Street, Roxbury

Wednesday, June 26 - 6:00 p.m.

Grove Hall Plaza, 460 Blue Hill Ave, Roxbury

Tuesday, July 2 - 6:00 p.m.

Harambee Park, 15 Talbot Avenue, Dorchester

Thursday, July 25 - 6:00 p.m.

Walker Playground, 528 Norfolk Street, Mattapan

Thursday, August 8 - 6:00 p.m.

Community Interfaith Prayer, Meditation, Reflection

Almont Park, 40 Almont Street, Mattapan

Wednesday, August 21 - 6:00 p.m.

Community Interfaith Prayer, Meditation, Reflection

Ramsay Park, 1931 Washington Street, Lower Roxbury

"Adopt the block unity summer walks is a great program under the City of Boston led by Will Dickerson," said Bishop William E Dickerson II, Greater Love Tabernacle. "It's a great time for the clergy, residents, community stakeholders and the police to show unity in regards to peace in the community. It is very encouraging and inspirational to see such unity displayed in regards to peace."

BPHC also offers a variety of violence intervention and prevention initiatives aimed at supporting residents impacted by violence and fostering community healing, including the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI). SSYI works with teens and young adults between the ages of 17 and 24 who are most at risk from community gun violence to connect them with mental health services, educational opportunities, and workforce programs. By providing more intensive support and services to those individuals more regularly impacted by or engaged in violence, this is a program designed to address entrenched issues at the root of violence. SSYI is an ongoing program that will continue throughout the summer.

To meet Bostonians' growing health needs, address longstanding gaps in access, and elevate mental and behavioral health, BPHC's Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness will continue to promote and improve mental health and wellness for everyone in Boston this summer by removing the stigma associated with finding support and treatment for mental health issues. Additionally, the Center will help residents get the mental health support they need through collaborating with external partners to provide population-specific external resources.

Block Party Grants

Earlier this month, Mayor Wu announced applications are now open for the second year of block party grants. New this year, the City of Boston has streamlined the summer block party permit application process to improve constituents' experience and speed up approvals. This funding effort is to encourage residents to connect with their neighbors and experience the joy of building a stronger community. Residents and community groups who apply for the mini-grants can receive up to $750 to purchase food, party supplies, lawn games, and other items for summer block parties to make it easier and more affordable for neighborhoods to hold community gatherings.

The block party grant builds on the Mayor's commitment to fostering a fun, safe, and healthy summer in Boston. Last year, the Office of Civic Organizing (OCO) provided 52 grants to residents and community groups totalling $30,000 across 14 neighborhoods in Boston.

Summer Activation Grants

Building on the City's commitment to expand resident opportunities to connect and build community, Mayor Wu also today announced the second iteration of the City's Summer Activation Mini-Grants. These mini-grants, administered by the Mayor's Community Safety team, represent a $100,000 investment focused on empowering organizations' efforts to activate social spaces and build community with residents throughout the summer months. The City will be awarding grants to various neighborhood associations, tenant task force organizations, and grassroot community-based organizations across Boston in the near future.

This announcement builds on Mayor Wu's commitment to build strong, healthy communities where every resident feels safe and is connected to opportunity and city services. Additionally, Mayor Wu has worked to expand programming and employment opportunities for Boston residents, including a new streamlined youth summer jobs program. This month, Mayor Wu also took steps to build up public safety infrastructure, appointing Evandro Carvalho as the new Executive Director of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT).

Filed Under: Government, City

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