Crescent City Keepers Mentoring Program Made a Part of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that the White House has brought Crescent City Keepers (“CCK”), a mentoring program launched by U. S. Attorney Polite in 2014, under the umbrella of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper (“MBK”) Initiative. MBK seeks to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensures that all young people can reach their full potential.
To date, Crescent City Keepers is the only MBK initiative created by a U.S. Attorney. CCK focuses on all young people, including boys and young men of color, ages 14 through 16, who are considered as having a "high risk" of being killed as a result of gun violence. CCK identifies its participating mentees based on data compiled by the City of New Orleans, in its capacity as one of ten cities participating in DOJ’s National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. Each participant has been identified as "high risk" because he/she either has already been the victim of gun violence or is in the social network of another homicide victim of gun violence. While the average New Orleans resident has a homicide rate of 24/100,000, individuals falling into this high risk category have a homicide rate of 1,600/100,000. That is, these young people, predominantly boys and young men of color, are nearly 63 times more likely to be killed by gun violence than the average New Orleans resident. By providing intensive mentoring and other support, CCK would intervene in the lives of these young people and help direct them towards safe, productive, and successful pathways.
In a shift from the more traditional one-on-one or group mentoring techniques, CCK will utilize an "institutional mentoring" concept. Capitalizing on the role that faith-based and other community organizations have historically played as a foundation for community development and preservation, CCK will pair one mentee with one faith-based or other community organization. The faith-based or other community organization will, in essence, "adopt" each mentee, and its membership will provide guidance and support. Each participating organization will recruit three members within the congregation or membership to serve as primary mentors. Using a team approach, these primary mentors will be the first-line personnel to engage with the young person. By relying on "what already works" – i.e., well-established and –recognized mentoring programs in the New Orleans area – CCK will develop a life skills curriculum as part of the mentoring process. Other members of the organization will also play a vital role in CCK. The entire membership – which in most cases will include individuals with a variety of professional backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, teachers, and skilled laborers – will provide the ancillary mentoring and support necessary to address some of the immediate needs of the mentee and his or her family. Furthermore, these organizations can leverage their relationships with various social services agencies to provide additional resources for those issues that are beyond the capacity of a traditional mentor program, including, but not limited to, housing, transportation, and health care.
U.S. Attorney Polite said: “It is not enough for us to wait for these young people to show up in a police report, or worse, on a coroner’s slab. We must intervene in order to save their lives. This initiative is about public safety in its truest sense, and it allows our community’s organizations and residents to be part of the solution.”
To date, the following organizations have now been matched with CCK mentees:
The New Orleans Chapter of Links, Inc.
Progressive Baptist Church
St. Peter Claver Catholic Church
St. Pius X Catholic Church
Urban League of Greater New Orleans