"Safe communities are a cornerstone of educational and economic opportunity in Massachusetts....this is about affirming everybody’s right to live in safety and without fear of violence.” Deval Patrick
Intergenerational community organizing is an important part of our mission. We equip young people to become agents of change and help them to organize their neighbors, parents, and peers to address the issues of that disproportionately impact their communities. Together, teen and adult leaders are working to: reduce the epidemic of gun violence and make their parks and streets safer; transform their struggling public schools; and advocate for creation of teen jobs.
SSYP has a flourishing partnership with the Blackstone Innovation School to increase the circles of care around the young people we serve, to be a engaged neighbor to our nearby school, and to provide resources that school cannot prioritize.
The Blackstone Innovation School, a neighboring elementary school. (Check out pictures from our recent MLK Day Of Action at the school). A diverse network of religious and secular organizations turned a dusty storage space into a fully functioning library that has 11,000 well-organized volumes in an online database; is staffed five days a week by volunteers; welcomes more than 20 classrooms for weekly read-alouds; and sponsors several larger literacy events each year. Visits to the Library are an integral part of the academic curriculum.
This unique collaboration which was recognized by the White House Office of Faith-Based initiatives has resulted in the creation of:
an 11,000 volume lending library open every weekday which is staffed by volunteers, catalogued on an online database, and includes a lifetime subscription to EBSCO databases;
a hands-on science curriculum and renovated greenhouse;
a "Support a Classroom" program that provides teachers with necessary supplies and wish-list items; and
a fleet of classroom volunteers to support the school's classrooms throughout the year.
Our teen programming includes civics education, leadership development, and basic community organizing strategies. Recent campaigns have included:
collecting signatures with Raise Up Massachusetts for passage of the Fair Share Amendment to support public education;
joining state-wide groups to advocate for increased public funding for teen jobs; and
mobilizing leaders to testify and push for passage of the 2014 Massachusetts law designed to reduce gun violence
A team of teen organizers working with the B-PEACE For Jorge Campaign has developed a replicable model of community intervention. They spurred creation of the Friends of Ramsay Park, comprised of community organizations, residents, law enforcement, and other stakeholders. The group is working to make the park (located in the Lenox neighborhood, where our second year-round program site is located) safer and healthier for young people and families.
Highlights of the Friends of Ramsay Park Campaign to date include:
creating ten new community organizer positions for neighborhood teens,
installing giant public art pieces, including a colorful blacktop mural and a tile mosaic (the work of young people in our programs),
recruiting athletes to run evening sports workshops for neighborhood families.
To learn more, contact Liz Steinhauser
Parents work with teens to focus on both local, South End and Lower Roxbury-based issues and city-wide and state-wide concerns. Local issues have included improving our local elementary schools in a variety of ways, increasing community safety through a focus on a local park, and using the arts to inspire neighbors to work for change. City-wide and state-wide issues have included state funding for public education, state budget lines for youth employment, and protection for immigrant students and families in Boston Public Schools.
Twice monthly bilingual meetings are held at St. Stephen’s.
To learn more, contact Rafaela Polanco
In September 2012, violence struck at the heart of our community when 19-year-old Jorge Fuentes was murdered while walking his dog outside his home in Dorchester. He was an exuberant, remarkable young man and natural leader, adored by the children he mentored at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs and respected by his peers. Jorge grew up in our programs and graduated from high school looking forward to a bright future.
In his honor, we run the B-PEACE For Jorge Anti-violence Campaign. B-PEACE is a program of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts which stands for:
Bishop’s Action Steps Toward Peace:
To learn more, contact us.