Safe and Successful Youth Initiative in Massachusetts (SSYI)

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 not only physically but mentally also. 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.

Evaluation of the SSYI:

  • An American Institute of Research (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.
  • According to the 2013 AIR and WestEd national review of programs similar to the SSYI, “Massachusetts is the only state taking a comprehensive, research-based approach to combating violent crime across multiple cities,” said Dr. Patricia E. Campie, principal researcher at AIR. “The combination of a targeted list of high-impact youth offenders, coupled with street outreach workers and case management that connect youth with needed services, has showed promise in reducing violent crime in the cities implementing the interventions.”

Population of Focus: Youth

Links to resources:

  • Learn more on the brief overview and findings on Safe and Successful Youth Initiative in Massachusetts (SSYI) on
  • Read the full reportThe Impact of the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative on City-Level Youth Crime Victimization Rates” from the SSYI Evaluation.
  • Read the full reportA Comparative Study Using Propensity Score Matching to Predict Incarceration Likelihoods Among SSYI and non-SSYI Youth from 2011-2013” from the SSYI Evaluation.
  • Read the full report Massachusetts Safe and Successful Youth Initiative: Benefit-to-Cost Analysis of Springfield and Boston Sites” from the SSYI Evaluation.
  • Check out the AIR Report Cities Profiles.
  • Learn more about the American Institute of Research.

Date: 2019.