Thank you, Jim. It’s a thrill for me to be here in Atlanta.
I want to thank U.S. Attorney Yates for welcoming me and joining me here this afternoon. Her presence is evidence of her commitment to the city’s youth.
And of course, I want to thank our partners and friends at Boys and Girls Clubs – Jim Clark, Kevin McCartney, Missy Dugan, and Stewart Williams. And of course these amazing young people – Torreke Evans, the Warren Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year for 2013, and Kaelin Matthews, an accomplished slam poetry performer from the club. I’m so glad you could both join us today.
And finally, I have to single out my former colleague from Alston and Bird, Steve Ensor. Steve is the Chair of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta Fulton County. It’s terrific to see you again, Steve.
I’m incredibly excited to visit the Warren Boys and Girls Club. I’ve heard so many great things about the work they’re doing, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of that work first-hand.
It’s also gratifying to see the fruits of the partnership between the Department of Justice and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. We have a rich history of working together, particularly in support of youth mentoring.
This year, I was proud that my office – the Office of Justice Programs – awarded $22 million to support Boys and Girls Clubs mentoring efforts. This funding provides opportunities for clubs in all 50 states to request mentoring support in underserved communities, on military bases, and in Indian country.
These programs are so important for kids who live in disadvantaged and high-stress situations, and they’re a huge asset for families when an adult can’t always be present.
And we know through research that mentoring programs work.
While I’m in town, I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology to talk with leading researchers about effective criminal justice practices, including programs designed for kids who are exposed to stress, trauma, and violence.
We know through research that trauma and violence can have profound consequences for children, to the point of shortening one’s life. That’s why, through his Defending Childhood Initiative, Attorney General Eric Holder has made this a top public safety – and public health – priority.
Mentoring is one of those approaches we know to be effective. That’s why our partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs is so vital – and it’s why I’m so glad to be here with these committed leaders celebrating the work being done with and on behalf of Atlanta’s young people.
I’m now pleased to introduce my colleague, U.S. Attorney Sally Yates. I know she’s very familiar to the people of Atlanta.
Sally is the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia. She’s also the Vice-Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which provides advice and counsel to the Attorney General on policy, management, and operational issues.
She’s a career prosecutor, an outstanding trial lawyer, and a wonderful asset to Georgia’s communities. It’s my pleasure to give you U.S. Attorney Sally Yates.