May 24, 2010
Today’s Jammin' for Justice Environmental Justice Award honoree is Dorchester Bay Youth Force.
In 2008, Dorchester Bay Youth Force joined a city-wide campaign to stop youth violence, organized by the United Youth and Youth Workers of Boston coalition. Members of Youth Force met with local banks and businesses in Upham's Corner and raised several thousand dollars for a youth jobs fund.
In spring 2009, after significant state budget cuts to jobs funding, Youth Force and REEP organized an emergency gathering, bringing together dozens of Boston teens to strategize an immediate response to the cuts. When the state did not restore the budget for youth jobs and violence prevention programs, the United coalition decided to formally dissolve.
Determined to bring back funding before the impacts of the cuts were felt, Youth Force members began meeting in the fall with youth programs across the city. This resulted in an alliance with Safe Teen/Safe Communities, a statewide campaign to restore jobs funding by the Massachusetts Community Action Network. In December 2009, Youth Force began mobilizing a new coalition to restore funding by recruiting Boston youth programs that would be affected by the cuts.
By January, the coalition had a dozen participating groups and was meeting regularly to plan the campaign. In February, over 700 youth from across the Commonwealth marched to the State House, calling on legislators to restore funding to youth jobs and programming—marking the largest youth mobilization in Boston over the past few years.
Building on this momentum, over 1000 youth and supporters rallied at Government Center in April to call on the federal, state and city governments to invest in youth jobs and opportunities. Members of Youth Force led delegations to meet with Mayor Menino at City Hall and Senator Scott Brown at the Federal Building, then marched to the State House to direct youth to legislator visits.
Today, the work to stop the violence crisis by providing young people with jobs and opportunities has been re-energized, thanks to the perseverance, leadership and commitment of Dorchester Bay Youth Force. Thank you Youth Force, for standing strong and continuing the fight to save lives in our neighborhoods.