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Mayor Elorza, Members of Providence City Council, Community Partners Announce Next Steps in City’s Anti-Violence Initiatives

Providence residents can sign up for nonviolence training, apply for youth jobs; local organizations can apply for mentorship program assistance

PROVIDENCE, RI  Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Councilperson Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh Clements, Executive Director of the Nonviolence Institute Cedric Huntley, President and CEO of Mentor Rhode Island Jo-Ann Schofield, Executive Director of the Refugee Dream Center Omar Bah and youth jobs program participant Night Jean Muhingabo today announced next steps in the implementation of Providence’s anti-violence investments utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, including where to apply for nonviolence trainings and mentorship opportunities and new employment opportunities available for Providence youth. The City’s robust, three-pronged anti-violence strategy is intended to address root causes of violence by providing critical supports, skills and opportunities for young people in Providence.

“When we think about addressing violence, we have to look at the root causes – the systemic inequities, barriers and burdens that many of the youth in our city face, especially as we continue to navigate the pandemic,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “By investing in our city’s young people, we can set them up with the skills and opportunities they need to find success and chart their own course forward as members of our Providence community.”

As part of this comprehensive approach, the City today announced that the Nonviolence Institute has been selected through a request for proposals process to manage a citywide nonviolence training initiative for Providence residents, intended to enhance participants’ conflict resolution skills and proactively identify interpersonal conflicts between individuals and groups at risk of escalating to violence. Through this partnership, the Nonviolence Institute will hold two types of trainings, one targeted at youth and another open to adults.

The Nonviolence Institute will offer monthly S.E.E.D. (Skills Enrichment Education Development) trainings for youth ages 15-24 who are referred to the program by the Nonviolence Institute’s outreach team, as well as from schools, group homes and community agencies across the city​. These weeklong training programs will provide participants an opportunity to develop crucial skills that focus on the interconnectedness of the principles of nonviolence, conflict resolution and mental health and wellness. Additionally, youth will learn strategies to encourage peers to practice principles of nonviolence and explore opportunities for on-the-job training as a Junior Nonviolence Facilitator in upcoming S.E.E.D. trainings. The program aims to help youth participants break down barriers and stereotypes that prevent them from seeking out necessary mental health and wellness supports, and individuals will be provided with case management and connection to supports throughout and after completion of the program. The Nonviolence Institute aims to graduate eighteen cohorts of eligible youth from the S.E.E.D training program from January 2022 to June 2023. Community organizations and groups who work with youth are encouraged to refer individuals that they feel may benefit from this program.

In addition, the Nonviolence Institute will hold “The Beloved Community Workshop,” tailored for adult learners. The first workshop as part of this program will be held at the Washington Park Community Library on February 6, 2022. These workshops provide training opportunities for groups of adults to learn and practice nonviolence skills such as mindfulness, mental health awareness and personal development, as well as education around issues of race, class, equity and justice. These workshops will be held bi-monthly until June 2023 and are open to the public. Stipends for both trainings are available to Providence residents to cover participation or barriers to access, such as covering childcare for an individual to attend.

“Teaching nonviolence is a long-term solution to reducing violence by building safe spaces for healthy and healing conversations,” said Executive Director of the Nonviolence Institute Cedric Huntley. “The Nonviolence Institute has been providing these kinds of trainings for 20 years, focusing on the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolence philosophy. Through nonviolence training, we can create understanding, relationships, friendship and forgiveness that can endure the next struggle – not as adversaries but as allies.”

The City also announced that through a request for proposals process, Mentor Rhode Island has been selected to lead the City’s youth mentorship programming. Mentor Rhode Island will immediately be accepting proposals from local community organizations to receive specialized assistance from Mentor Rhode Island, as well as program improvement grants specific to improving mentoring opportunities. Mentor Rhode Island will center their efforts on organizations that focus on transitional years, including the transition from elementary and middle school to higher grades, older teenagers and young adults, and on areas of the city where programs do not currently exist.

“We’re very excited for this opportunity to support and guide local organizations who provide critical mentorship experiences to our city’s youth,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, President & CEO of Mentor Rhode Island. “We appreciate the City’s work to prioritize mentorship and look forward to increasing access to meaningful relationships and support systems for young people citywide.”

As the third piece of the City’s comprehensive approach to anti-violence, the City has announced partner agencies are accepting applications for youth job opportunities, all with an earning wage of $15 per hour. Organizations selected to expand youth job opportunities for this effort include: Reentry Campus Program, Federal Hill House WEX and Federal Hill House SL, Refugee Dream Center, Inspiring Minds, Comprehensive Community Action Program, Boys and Girls Club of Providence, Providence Housing Authority and Community Action Partnership of Providence County.

“The youth jobs program of the City of Providence is a great investment to the city’s future,” said Omar Bah, Executive Director of the Refugee Dream Center. “It is the best mentoring opportunity approach for our youthful population as it boosts their self-esteem, places them in a positive environment, and prepares them for professional life as they grow.”

To learn more, register for a nonviolence training, apply to receive program support from Mentor Rhode Island or apply for a youth job, please visit the City’s Rescue Plan website.