In 2003, NAFI/NFI stepped into the turbulence of a nationwide spike in youth violence. In viewing this crisis as an opportunity, the Youth Police Initiative (YPI) was born, with a mission “to build trust and break down stereotypes between youth and police.”
Operating under NAFI’s Prevention Division, Youth Link, the YPI program sought to engage at-risk youth and local police officers in activities and conversation. Sharing meals, team building activities, and personal stories brought forth the commonalities among the group, and differences were put aside. The trust that comes with such shared experience allowed for honest conversation, empowering each member of the group to share ideas on how they could work together to prevent further youth violence. With much success in Baltimore, YPI moved on to White Plains and Yonkers NY, and Boston’s Franklin Field Public Housing Development.
In order to grow the YPI program as a resilient and innovative force in preventing gun violence among children, Youth Link in 2010 developed a Train-the-Trainer program to help local communities build capacity to maintain regular YPI trainings. To date, over 25 communities from Bermuda to the state of Washington have used YPI to build cultures of mutual learning and respect.
Youth Link’s efforts have resulted in:
- Reduced juvenile crime
- Increased educational attainments
- Youth having increased aspirations
The goal is simple: Provide young people with critical life skills and foster a desire for a successful future; and the results are tangible.