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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
Catholic Charities also encourages local affiliates to get involved in delivering treatment services that are a key part of the drug court model now being replicated in many communities (Catholic Charities USA, 2000). Leaders of Tomorrow in Cleveland, for example, helps young people convicted of selling drugs to find and keep jobs and stay in school. Catholic Charities uses convening people, e-mail, and publications to let its affiliates know about new activities it encourages them to undertake (Catholic Charities USA, 2000).
Another example of the ways in which the juvenile justice system has become involved in forming a partnership with faith-based community organizations is the Boston Ten-Point Coalition. Responding to escalating violence, black clergy joined with the Boston police force to create a coalition, aimed at reaching out to at-risk youth and gang members through “adoption” of gangs, patrolling neighborhoods, counseling, and using the church as a community center. The coalition, working with law enforcement and social service officials, has been successful in reducing gun violence and formulating future plans for a program that will help create entrepreneurial businesses run by former gang members, who in turn, will employ other former gang members (Congress of National Black Churches, 2001).
Project SPIRIT (Strength, Perseverance, Imagination, Responsibility, Integrity, and Talent) is an after-school, church-based curriculum program for students ages 6–12. The program, run by the Congress of National Black Churches, is built on the idea that church is a major institution in the lives of many black families. By joining together parents, pastors, community and business leaders, and politicians, the program aims to provide youth with a safe haven for teaching and learning. Youth participants engage in a variety of activities, including life skills enhancement programs, after-school tutorials, and Saturday School. Project SPIRIT, which has spread to at least eight states, also provides parents with education, pastoral counseling, and training (Congress of National Black Churches, 2001).
Community-Based Ceremonies for Youth Development
As we have described, public and private organizations often provide communities with programs to support young people. However, communities themselves also often initiate and maintain vital programs to nurture their young members—particularly through unique programs rooted in the communities’ own cultural traditions.