Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $250,000)
The Violence Intervention Ecosystem Youth Development - Kujichagulia Program (“Kuji Program”) will use OJJDP Youth Violence Prevention grant funds to enhance and expand its existing youth skills development, violence intervention program, the Kujichagulia (“Kuji”) Program, into a fully staffed violence response program aimed at increasing youth protective factors, building resiliency, and preventing youth violence in Baltimore City. The Kuij Program will work with Center for Hope’s violence intervention programs, Safe Streets and PAAVE (Pathways to Advocacy Against Violence Every day), to develop a referral process and to enhance the Kuji Program curriculum to include a psychosocial trauma-informed element.
The program will consist of 3-month cohorts, supporting 10 participants in each and participants will be middle and high school youth with multiple risk factors for violence. The program employs a unique multimedia approach to promote development of creative and critical thinking skills and provide a platform for participants to gain experience in radio, film, and podcasting. Participants work together to design and implement public education campaigns to bring awareness to the issue of gun and community violence in the community and promote healing and social change. Kuji Program youth learn about organizing methods, activism, messaging and marketing, event planning, media advocacy, and group facilitation and deliver workshops and presentations to other youth and to adult stakeholders.
Program enhancements will include the development of a trauma-informed group-based weekly workshop, facilitated in collaboration with the PAAVE Program. Furthermore, participants identified as needing more intensive one on one work will be referred to individualized case management services, where their own needs and needs of their families will be met.
Primary activities include the hiring of the Kuji Youth Coordinator, development of program policies and protocols, development of trauma-informed group and case management elements, streamlining of the referral process, and cohort facilitation. As a result of the program, participants will develop a broad range of skills, will be provided a creative outlet, will address past trauma and build resiliency. Participants will increase their protective factors through trauma-informed psychoeducational groups and individual case management with the goal to prevent further youth violence from occurring in Baltimore City.