Very few social issues get as much attention as youth crime, violence and gang involvement. Recent gang-style killings in Metro Vancouver have created a sense of urgency in many communities as they struggle to come to terms with how to best address this problem.
But there is hope. Vancouver’s Yo Bro Youth Initiative delivers unique resiliency-based programs to youth in the Lower Mainland who are at risk of becoming involved in gangs or drugs. They offer positive support systems that empower youth to develop resiliency, healthy living skills, and proactive coping skills to help them avoid the pitfalls that can derail their lives.
Yo Bro operates 23 programs in nine schools – both during and after school hours – serving more than 450 youth. With only two staff executing the program, volunteer support is integral to its operation. Ten youth leaders facilitate programs and community engagement activities – many of them past participants of the program; and 25 trained volunteers provide mentorship to participating youth.
It costs more than $150,000 per year for one youth in the criminal justice system. In 2012 about 1,000 youth were in that system in BC – that’s $150 million a year. But it only costs about $1,000 a year for one youth to participate in Yo Bro – a very sound ROI!
Yo Bro works with numerous organizations who share the goal of ending youth violence and drug use, including BC Crime Prevention, Vancouver and Delta Police Departments, Surrey School District, the Vancouver School board and several local businesses.
With SVP Vancouver’s help, Yo Bro’s program expanded to 12 schools within the Vancouver and Surrey school districts, more than doubling the number of students they work with each week.
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About SVP: Social Venture Partners is a privately funded foundation established in 2001 with a mission of engaged philanthropy, more commonly referred to as venture philanthropy. We invest time, money, and professional expertise in local non-profits to help strength their organizational capacity and scale their impact. There are 39 SVP chapters in 8 countries; we operate with the same values but take a local approach to our philanthropic investments. Visit svpvancouver.org to find out more.