Safe and Successful Youth Initiative: Violence Prevention Program for Youth

Youth violence presents significant challenges across the U.S., disrupts communities and economic development, increases health care costs, and decreases property values—not to mention the human impact. In 2010, Massachusetts was the most violent state in the Northeast—the MA Public Health Council reported 1,667 homicide victims between 2001 and 2010, with nearly 40 percent of them between ages 14 and 24.

The Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) is a multifaceted, community-based strategy that combines public health and public safety approaches to eliminating serious violence among high-risk, urban youth ages 14-24. Through 2012, SSYI sites served more than 1,300 youth in communities that include Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services contracted with justice experts from AIR’s Health and Social Development program—along with WestEd and the Justice Resource Institute—to study the development and implementation of the Initiative in 11 of the most violent communities across the state. SSYI is implemented in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety.

An AIR evaluation, including three outcome studies of the SSYI, was released in December 2014 by then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. The evaluation illustrated positive benefits to the youth involved in the program. Youth who were not involved in SSYI, but had similar violent crime backgrounds, were 42% more likely to be incarcerated than youth who were actively engaged in SSYI services.

Population of focus: High-risk, urban youth 14-24 years

Links to resource:

Date: 2011

Organization: The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services contracted with justice experts from AIR’s Health and Social Development program—along with WestEd and the Justice Resource Institute—to study the development and implementation of the Initiative in 11 of the most violent communities across the state. SSYI is implemented in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety.