Office of Children and Family Services


For Immediate Release: 8/28/2018

Contact: Press Office


Phone: 518-402-3130

Governor Cuomo Announces $8.35 Million to Help Long Island Communities Cut Off the Recruitment Pipeline and Combat MS-13

 Investment Includes $3.7 Million for Youth Job Training and $2.4 Million in Empire After-School Grants

$2.25 Million in Community Credible Messenger Grants for Gang Prevention and Youth Support Through Community Partnerships
Builds on $18.5 Million Anti-Gang Investment Included in the 2018-19 Budget and Brings Total State Investment to Nearly $27 Million
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $8.35 million in grant awards to help communities on Long Island combat MS-13 gang activity and prevent young people from falling prey to gang recruiters. New York's holistic approach for at-risk youth is a multi-pronged effort across state agencies that provides educational, training, and employment opportunities with mentoring and support.
"The violence and terror that MS-13 has inflicted on our communities will not be tolerated, and by protecting and educating New York's children, we are taking action to drive out these monstrous criminals," Governor Cuomo said. "The launch of this comprehensive plan builds on our investments to stomp out gang recruitment while engaging young men and women in our efforts to eliminate MS-13 from New York once and for all."
The grants are in addition to $18.5 million included in the FY 2018-2019 budget, and are dedicated to eradicating MS-13 in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, the total investment committed to combat gang activity on Long Island is nearly $27 million. 
Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, is an international criminal gang that emerged in the United States in the 1980s. The gang is known for extreme and brutal violence that terrorizes communities. While there has been a dramatic decrease in violent crime on Long Island in recent years, a recent uptick in violent crime is attributable to MS-13.
$3.7 Million to Bolster Job Training Opportunities and Divert At-Risk Youth Away from Gang Activity
The New York State Department of Labor is awarding nearly $3.7 million to help serve 845 young men and women on Long Island by connecting them to job training and career opportunities. An RFP was issued earlier this year. Thirteen applications were received and all 13 met the criteria needed for award. The funding will go 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.
Organization Awarded Funding
Funding Amount
Uniondale Union Free School District
Long Island University
Family and Children's Association
Leadership Training, Inc.
Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, Inc.
West Islip Youth Enrichment Services, Inc.
Brentwood Union Free School District
Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc.
Board of Cooperative Educational Services, First Supervisory District of Suffolk County (D/B/A Eastern Suffolk BOCES)
Viability, Inc.
United Way of Long Island
Self-Initiated Living Options
Adelante of Suffolk County, Inc.
$2.4 Million in Empire State After School Program Grants 
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, in consultation with the State Education Department, is awarding $2.4 million to create 1,499 new after-school program slots at four high-need school districts and not-for-profit or community-based providers serving at-risk youth in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The addition will bring the total number of OCFS-administered after-school program slots to 5,149 on Long Island.
They will provide a safe and nurturing place for students to go after school. The grants build upon Governor Cuomo's historic investment in after-school funding. An additional $7.6 million in Empire State After School Program grants will fund 4,750 slots statewide. With the latest round of Empire State After School Program funding, OCFS administers more than $67 million in after-school programs statewide. 
School Districts Awarded Funding
Children Served
Funding Amount
West Islip Youth Enrichment Services, Inc.
Longwood School District
Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc.
Roosevelt School District
$2.25 Million to Fund Community Credible Messengers Initiative
Governor Cuomo also announced the award of $2.25 million to the Family and Children's Association to implement his Community Credible Messengers Initiative in Long Island. The agency is building a network with Youth Enrichment Services, Inc., Visions to Opportunity, Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk County and Woman's Opportunity Rehabilitation Center to support youth transitioning to the community following a juvenile justice placement and their families. The network seeks to prevent involvement in activities like gangs that caused an arrest in the first place.
Credible Messengers is targeted to help young people avoid gang activity and to engage children in constructive activities that promote their growth and learning and bring positive change to their communities. It is expected to serve 50 Long Island youth each year. In addition to Long Island, agencies in Buffalo and Westchester will also receive grants.
Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "This funding will provide youth in targeted communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties with greater access to social services and workforce development programs — key interventions needed to help kids at risk of joining gangs like MS-13. 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."
Acting Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "Young people need strong supports to guide them in reaching their fullest potential, whether they are youth returning to their communities after a juvenile justice placement or a child needing a safe and enriching environment after school. I commend Governor Cuomo for making these grants available to support communities in keeping gangs from preying on vulnerable youth and giving parents peace of mind."
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "When students are engaged in productive afterschool activities that hold their interest, they're going to develop positive relationships with friends and caring adults. The Board of Regents and I are grateful to Governor Cuomo.