Milwaukee organization awarded $1.6 million grant to reduce youth violence

Will fund pre-college and mentorship opportunities for students

MPS administration building

The Center for Self‐Sufficiency, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization, has received a $1.6 million federal grant aimed at reducing violence among Milwaukee Public High School youth.

The four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will fund a multi-pronged program for an estimated 75 students, with a focus on pre-college programming, developing healthy relationship and mentorship. 

MPS administration building

The student cohort will participate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s PEOPLE (Pre-college Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) program, which involves afterschool enrichment, tutoring, career exploration, learning excursions, as well as pre-college experiences on campus during the summer.

Students will also regularly meet with members of the Milwaukee Police Department in group mentoring sessions, and the Center for Self-Sufficiency will host education sessions on building healthy relationships.

“The idea is that youth who are idle and not receiving support and resources are more apt to engage in anti-social activities that connect to violence,” said Carl Wesley, president and CEO of the Center for Self-Sufficiency. So, for example, giving youth opportunities to participate in excursions that are part of pro-social activities allows them to learn how to engage outside the community and helps them meet their thrill need in positive, pro-social ways.”

With its emphasis on education, Wesley said, the program also connects students to pathways out of poverty, which is proven to reduce participation in violent activities.

Students in the PEOPLE program who are accepted to UW-Madison will receive a full tuition scholarship.

Wesley said the opportunity to participate in the program is a “game changer” for the 75 participating students.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity to leverage resources from multiple entities to really pour into this group,” Wesley said.

Research scientist Jerlando Jackson of the Jackson Consulting Firm will conduct an impact evaluation on the program.

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