Give Against Violence

Photo courtesy of cureviolence.org/the-interrupters/

Photo courtesy of cureviolence.org/the-interrupters/

This holiday season, consider a gift that works for a better world. There are many excellent organizations working hard to reduce violence in our neighborhoods, our cities and throughout our country. Here are three nonprofits that have brought more peace to the places we live.

Cure Violence (formerly known as CeaseFire) is helping to end violence through community engagement. Cure Violence staff members have conducted hundreds of workshops to “interrupt” the spread of violence in Baltimore, New York City and Chicago. Cure Violence has a very unique approach to violence, treating it as a contagion that easily spreads. In this “public health” perspective on violence, Cure trains members to act as “interrupters.”  Interrupters identify key people and use mediation, mentoring and support services to change the behavior in high-risk neighborhoods. The ultimate goal is to change group norms.

And its model seems to be working. Gun violence has decreased in each neighborhood that Cure Violence has focused on. The Cure Violence framework is currently being implemented in East New York, Brooklyn with a program called Man Up!  The New York Times reported in July 2013 that East New York had gone 363 days without any shootings. Similar efforts like the Save Our Streets program in Crown Heights, Brooklyn helped reduce shootings by 6%. Surrounding areas, without these type of targeted interventions, saw gun violence increase by 18-28%. The full report can be found here.

The founder of Cure Violence/CeaseFire, Gary Slutkin, speaks more about Cure Violence’s strategy in this Ted Talk (You Tube Video). To support Cure Violence this season, donate here.

Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI), working in Brooklyn, takes a similar view on the prevention of violence. KAVI aims to provide young people with alternative activities, thereby empowering young men and women through creative expression. KAVI was previously featured on Progressive Pupil here.

In this NBC article, founder of KAVI, Dr. Robert Gore, explains his mission, “We have to look at [violence and homicide] like a disease…There are over 700,000 reported violent acts per year involving U.S. youth presenting to our hospitals. We have to stop looking at violence as a purely social problem.” Kavi’s donation page can be found here.

Another excellent organization is Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. GEMS serves girls and young women in New York City who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.

It is estimated that 2,200 children in New York City are annually exploited by commercial sexual exploitation (OCFS 2007 Prevalence Study).  The average age for a girl to enter into the commercial sex industry is 12 to 14 years of age (www.usdoj.gov).  These staggering numbers should compel us to learn about this issue and find ways to support the victims of violence.

GEMS “is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.”

Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS) is a grassroots advocacy organization.  The organization works closely with over 200 girls and young women each year.

The organization has been featured in the New York Times and Forbes Magazine. GEM’s founder Rachel Lloyd has received over 20 awards for her work, including the Beacon of Light Award in 2013 and Child Advocacy Award from the Administration for Children’s Services in 2010. To give to GEMS and help restore the lives of young women, donate here.

While we gather with family, enjoy holiday food and exchange gifts, let us also share some time and some of our resources to support effort of peace and justice that are already happening in the cities around us.

by Jolene Halzen, Nonprofit Management M.S. degree candidate at the New School for Public Engagement

 

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