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For immediate release: May 14, 2018
Contact: Craig Smith
Phone: 518-402-3130

$7.5 Million Announced to Strengthen Ongoing Efforts to Combat MS-13 on Long Island

$3 Million to Bolster Youth Job Training Opportunities and Divert At-Risk Youth Away From Gang Activity

$2.25 Million Community Credible Messenger Initiative Will Support Community Re-Entry Services for Youth in Juvenile Justice System

$2 Million Empire State After School Program Grants Will Establish or Expand After-School Programs

Builds on FY 2018-19 Budget's $18.5 Million Anti-Gang Investment

Today, New York State announced $7.5 million in new initiatives to help communities combat and counteract MS-13 on Long Island. The funding will support a comprehensive, multi-agency campaign to reduce gang violence, divert at-risk youth away from gang life, and support community organizations that work directly with local populations.

"With these investments, New York is sending a message loud and clear that gang activity has no place in our communities," the Governor said. "By taking a holistic approach to the task of combatting gangs on Long Island, we can help protect our neighborhoods and provide opportunities to at-risk youth that will break the cycle of gang violence once and for all." 

Earlier this year, New York State committed $16 million in the FY 2018-19 Budget to fight MS-13, as well as an additional $2.5 million through the state's Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative and SNUG Programs specifically for Nassau and Suffolk counties. Together with this new investment, New York's has invested $26 million toward defeating MS-13 under the Governor's leadership.

MS-13 is an international criminal gang that emerged in the United States in the 1980s. They engage in a wide range of criminal activity and are uniquely violent, oftentimes engaging in brutal acts simply to increase the gang's notoriety. Despite violent crime being down dramatically in Long Island over the past several years, a recent uptick in violent crime has been traced back to the gang.

$3 Million to Bolster Youth Job Training Opportunities and Divert At-Risk Youth Away from Gang Activity

The New York State Department of Labor is issuing a $3 million request for proposals to help connect young men and women on Long Island to job training and career opportunities. The funding will be available to local organizations that focus on work readiness training and employment for those at risk of falling into the trap of joining gangs like MS-13. For more information or to submit a proposal, click here.

$2.25 Million Toward Community Credible Messengers Initiative

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is making $2.25 million available over five years for non-profit agencies on Long Island to implement the Community Credible Messengers Initiative. Through the initiative, the Office of Community Partnerships and its regional voluntary agency partners will build collaborative, community-based networks to support youth returning to their communities following a juvenile justice placement. It seeks to prevent youth from returning to activities that caused them to be arrested in the first place, including involvement with gangs.

In addition, part of each funding award will be dedicated to vocational and employment opportunities for the youth. The agencies will identify and partner with grassroots non-profit agencies in their communities that have experience working with high-risk youth and families. The goal of the partnership is to build positive alternatives to gang activities or involvement, as well as any other negative influences the youth may encounter upon returning to their communities. The funding is subject to availability.

The awards are targeted toward agencies that have demonstrated the ability and willingness to develop positive forces in the lives of high-risk youth in large urban centers. Parent partners who have had experiences similar to those of the parents of these youth will also be available to assist them in navigating the local service systems. An additional $6.75 million in funding has been set aside through this initiative for non-profits in Buffalo, Rochester and the Mid-Hudson Region. For more details or to apply, click here.

$2 Million in Empire State After-School Program Grants for High-Need School Districts in Nassau and Suffolk Counties

Through the Empire State After-School Program, $2 million will be utilized specifically for not-for-profit, community-based organizations, as well as select Long Island school districts that serve high-need or at-risk youth, or have high rates of homelessness. First announced as part of the Governor's 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal, these four-year grants will allow non-profits and school districts to establish or expand after-school programs. The funds are expected to create 1,250 new after-school program slots for children in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Administered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services in consultation with the State Education Department, grant awardees will receive annual installments for the four-year grant period, which are subject to availability of funds. For more information or to apply, click here.

$250,000 in Additional Summer Youth Employment Program Funding for Long Island

An additional $250,000 in funding will be made through the state's Summer Youth Employment Program to support Long Island communities in creating summer jobs for youth from low-income families. In 2017, over 19,000 young people across the state were employed through the program in a range of work placements, helping them to gain valuable work experience, job training, and transferrable life skills.

$3 Million Awarded to Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre to Provide Immigrant Youth with Support Services

Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre has been selected as the awardee of the $3 million investment previously announced to develop comprehensive support services for youth at risk of falling prey to MS-13 gang recruitment. This case management service will target vulnerable young people—particularly new immigrant children—by providing medical and mental health support, addiction treatment, trauma and family counseling, language training, and other community support services.

Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre has a long history of successfully serving immigrants and refugees, including human trafficking victims, by working collaboratively with other community partners to stabilize the lives of at-risk youth in an effort to prevent them from gang involvement. 

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "For low-income youth across the state, summer vacation is a great opportunity to counter financial disadvantage with enriching and constructive work experience that can help even the playing field for future success. This additional funding will target at-risk youth and young people who have been involved in the Juvenile Justice System in Nassau and Suffolk counties."

Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "The Governor is taking a novel approach as our state seeks to stamp out the influence of violent gangs on Long Island."The Department of Labor is proud to be a part of this effort and we look forward to helping achieve results for at-risk young men and women in Long Island communities."

Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "After school programs give children a safe, supported and nurturing place to spend their after-school hours while giving parents peace of mind. These programs promote academic and social success for children that will benefit them throughout their lives." 

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "It's a simple proposition - when students are engaged in productive afterschool activities that hold their interest, they're going to avoid gangs and other dangerous activities. The funding announced today will go a long way towards protecting and enriching our children."

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said, "There is literally nothing more important than the safety of our children. The Board and I are grateful to the Governor for providing critically-needed resources to prevent violence and to keep our students involved in safe, productive and educational activities."

Assemblyman Phil Ramos said, "Gangs are overtaking our neighborhoods, threatening our families and robbing our kids of their childhoods and futures. While a lot of effort has been put into increasing penalties and strengthening law enforcement, we also need to invest in prevention programs that reduce gang violence and give kids better options. These critical investments will empower our neighborhoods to protect our children and ensure they have the opportunity to truly fulfill their potential."

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, "We need to stand together to fight the threat of MS-13 and protect our communities in Nassau County and throughout New York State. Thank you for ensuring we have programs and funding to keep MS-13 at bay, stem violence and provide new opportunities for young people who are most vulnerable to all gang activity."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "Our collaborative efforts with our state partners will help ensure that we have a multi-pronged approach to combat MS-13 and deter their ability to recruit. I thank the Governor for fighting to secure state funding in this year's budget that so that our community organizations and stakeholders have the resources to prevent youth involvement in gangs."

Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez said, "To stamp out gang violence we must take a comprehensive approach that educates and empowers our students. With the funding announcement today, our local communities in Brentwood and Central Islip will be better prepared to prevent and address gang violence that has plagued our communities for far too long. I'm proud to stand with the Governor and my colleagues across government to stop the gang recruitment pipeline and enhance our community initiatives."