StreetSafe Boston

StreetSafe Boston (SSB) is an initiative of The Boston Foundation striving to reduce gang related crime throughout the city of Boston. According to SSB, this program’s mission is to “contribute to a reduction of violence in Boston by focusing interventions on approximately 20 of the City’s most active gangs in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by gang violence.” Currently SSB serves 22 of the more active gangs in Boston, particularly those historically involved in gun violence, and is working within the areas of:

  1. South End / Lower Roxbury
  2. Dudley Square area
  3. Grove Hall community
  4. Bowdoin / Geneva area
  5. Morton / Norfolk community

Harvard Research and Evaluation Team

Between December 2009 and January 2010 The Harvard Research and Evaluation Team, led by principal investigators Anthony Braga and Christopher Winship, provided technical support for the preparation of the project and continue to play a large role in SSB’s implementation.

Through their baseline research the Harvard Research and Evaluation team determined that:

  • 1% of Boston Youth, aged 15-24, were responsible for over 50% of city-wide shootings, and that
  • 70% of total shootings over a three decade period were concentrated in an area covering only about 5% of the city.

This information was used by SSB to identify the most active focus groups/gangs and individuals, ensuring that their resources are used to generate the greatest impact.

StreetSafe Boston aims to reduce violence and gang membership through two main intervention strategies. The first is by assigning a streetworker to each focus gang, who actively works to form relationships with gang affiliates and the local community in order to mediate and to resolve violent and potentially violent conflicts. The second strategy operates through the provision of social services such as job training, education, housing, and legal assistance to gang members through the assignment of Program Coordinators for each focus gang. Program Coordinators help these young people connect to existing resources, new opportunities, and assist in building human capital and life skills.
The Harvard evaluation team has worked closely with SSB to develop yearly evaluations and data analysis of the project’s overall impact. In order to most effectively evaluate the accomplishments of SSB, the Harvard team regularly interviews and collaborates with streetworkers, Program Coordinators, and SSB leadership, along with engagement in field research and ongoing analysis of administrative data. Through their partnership and collaboration, StreetSafe Boston and the Harvard Research and Evaluation team have worked to refine and improve SSB’s ongoing approach to violence prevention in order to make Boston’s neighborhoods safer for all residents.

Articles and Publications

  1. David Hureau and Christopher Winship quoted in article about StreetSafe Boston by Maria Cramer, "Reaching out on the roiling streets; Workers make progress connecting with city gang members" Boston Globe (December 3, 2010), October 6, 2010.
  2. A Small But Powerful Army On Boston’s Most Violent Streets, by Bob Oakes and Lisa Tobin, WBUR (audio clip and story)
  3. StreetSafe volunteers take to the streets of Boston, by Josh Brogadir, NECN (video clip and story), September 30, 2010.
  4. An eye-opening ride into the city within the city, by Joseph P. Kahn, The Boston Globe , February 20, 2010
  5. Violent crime down in Boston, by Maria Cramer, The Boston Globe, November 25, 2009.
  6. The StreetSafe Question, by Paul Kix, Boston Magazine, August 2009
StreetSafe Boston a way OUT... a way UP

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