Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Probation Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi today opened the new South Bronx Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON). As a central element of the Young Men’s Initiative, the NeON initiative establishes community-based probation offices in the neighborhoods where probation clients live, connecting them to local programs, opportunities and resources. Historically, probation offices have been located near courthouses, requiring clients to travel to see their probation officers. With this city-wide transformation, probation offices are being brought into the communities where they are needed, providing ongoing and direct support for clients as well as opportunities and resources.
Each NeON is connected to a network of education, business and community-based organizations – such as literacy and skills building programs, work and employment preparation, health care, academic and technical education and mentoring. These resources are designed to strengthen the young person’s connection to neighborhood, family and employment, as well as improve their sense of self-worth and keep them from returning to the criminal justice system. The rate at which New York City probation clients violate the terms of their probation is a third of the statewide rate – 6 percent as compared to 19 percent – and this initiative will further build on the City's success. Mayor Bloomberg opened the first NeON in Brownsville in December 2011; since then, the Department of Probation has opened additional NeONs in Harlem and South Jamaica. The South Bronx NeON features a Resource Hub, a vibrantly decorated and resource-rich space where clients can make the most of the time before and after they meet with their probation officer. The Mayor made the announcement at the South Bronx Neighborhood Opportunity Network, where he was joined by Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Edna Wells Handy, Assembly Members Eric Stevenson and Carmen Arroyo, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, Bronx County Supreme Court Justice Efrain Alvarado, Lonni Tanner, Director of See ChangeNYC, and Maurice Good, Program Director of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
“The opening of the South Bronx Neighborhood Opportunity Network – the fourth new community network we’ve opened this year – will help more people on probation get their lives back on track, and avoid returning to the justice system.” said Mayor Bloomberg. “As part of our Young Men’s Initiative, these new networks are already proving effective in Harlem, South Jamaica and Brownsville. We expect that the impact will be just as great here in the South Bronx and, with the goal of reducing recidivism, help us keep making the safest big city in the nation even safer.”
“A key component of the Neighborhood Opportunity Networks is connecting people to partner organizations to help strengthen their ties to the community,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “We want to help support these young men as they further their education, improve their health, gain successful employment s and make responsible decisions for themselves and their families.”
“The South Bronx NeON embodies the NYC Department of Probation’s community-based approach to ensuring public safety,” said Commissioner Schiraldi. “It’s not just that we are moving into neighborhoods where our clients live – thanks to the Young Men’s Initiative, we are also connecting them to local programs that can help them earn their GED or high school diploma, get a job, or connect with a mentor.”
“The opening of the South Bronx NeON and Resource Hub will have a real and positive impact on the lives of probation clients in the Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “It’s not just about creating offices that are located closer to where people on probation live and work, it is also about offering these individuals a forum to discuss future plans and find organizations that can help them achieve their professional, educational, and personal goals. I welcome the NeON initiative to the Bronx and applaud Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Probation for carrying out this innovative approach to keeping our youth out of the criminal justice system and helping them reach their full potential.”
“The success of probationers in remaining drug and crime-free is crucial to the well-being of the community-at-large,” said Bronx County District Attorney Robert T. Johnson. “Thank you to Bronx Probation for continuing to promote innovative programs such as NeON. By doing so, you improve the odds for your clients and enhance community safety.”
“Networking and support services, the opportunity for dialogue, the chance to learn by positive example and mutual support are critical components not only to success on probation but also to reintegration into family and society and ultimately for crime prevention and the well-being of our communities,” said Efrain Alvarado, Administrative Judge, Bronx County Supreme Court - Criminal Division. “I applaud DOP for this effort and wish them and their clients every success.”
“Congratulations to Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York for launching the Neighborhood Opportunity Network,” said New York State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson. “This network of people connects young men and women with probation services, employment preparation, literacy programs, health care and mentoring programs. NeON has all of the ingredients that support and encourage young people to stay out of trouble and realize that a law abiding life can lead to a productive and successful life, through positive people and positive opportunities.”
“I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Probation for opening this facility within the Bronx community, making it easier for probation clients to comply with terms of probation and avoid incarceration,” said Assemblyman Eric A. Stevenson.
“The number of Bronx residents involved in the criminal justice system is overwhelming, and effects all of us,” said Councilmember Helen D. Foster. “I commend the Probation Department for reaching out to government, business, and community based organizations to work together through the Neighborhood Opportunity Network to expand services and resources to our residents.”
“Improving the experience of at-risk New Yorkers that depend on our service centers is what See ChangeNYC is all about,” said Lonni Tanner, Chief Change Officer for the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and Director of the joint Mayoral/DDC initiative, See ChangeNYC. “Our hope is that by re-inventing the city's probation centers, we change the lives of those who use them."
The Department of Probation supervises 27,000 New Yorkers, the majority of whom are black and Latino males, and the NeON initiative is the cornerstone of the Department of Probation’s Young Men’s Initiative involvement. The Department of Probation will open additional NeON offices in East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Staten Island, where the next NeON is scheduled to open in September. Each NeON is built around an existing network of educational, business and community-based organizations, which provide clients access to a broader array of resources, including literacy programs, work and employment preparation, health care, academic and technical education, afterschool activities and mentoring.
The Department of Probation operates two NeON Satellites in Harlem. The Satellites are co-located at non-profit organizations, which means that after reporting to their probation officer, the client just needs to walk down the hall to meet a social worker or program manager who can help him or her access needed services. The Department of Probation will be adding more Satellites in the Bronx and other boroughs in the coming months.
NeON staff are specially trained to work in and with the community, connect clients to local resources, and build partnerships with organizations that provide the kinds of opportunities that probation clients need. NeON staff and clients will also work with local residents on projects to address pressing neighborhood needs and encourage active citizenship.
Along with the NeON initiative, the Department of Probation is also transforming its uninspiring waiting rooms into places where clients could make the most of the time they spend before and after they see their probation officer. With help from a wide variety of public and private partners – most notably See ChangeNYC, an initiative of the NYC Department of Design and Construction; Biber Architects; James Victore, Inc.; and the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services – the Department of Probation has created Resource Hubs in Manhattan, South Jamaica, Brooklyn and now the South Bronx. The Resource Hubs feature greeters to welcome clients and facilitate appointments with probation officers, visits from representatives of various community-based organizations, personal computers with a customized interface focused on helping clients find local resources, vibrant original posters, comfortable furniture and reading material.
Additional partners to the Resource Hub initiative include: Armstrong World Industries, City University of New York – Hunter College School of Social Work, David Sundberg – Esto Photographics, District Council 9 New York International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Union, Interface LLC, Kamco Supply Corp, Lutron and Solid Color Graphics. The South Bronx NeON/Resource Hub is the largest in the DOP system.
Additional DOP Young Men’s Initiative Programs in the South Bronx
The Department of Probation administers a total of eight YMI programs, five of which are operating in the South Bronx, in addition to the NeON:
Justice Community: Engages young adults involved in the criminal justice system in community benefit projects.
Justice Scholars: An education-based program that includes options for young adults who are either in high school or working toward a GED, in need of basic education classes, or ready for post-secondary education.
Community Education Pathways to Success: Helps young probation clients earn either a high school degree or GED.
Arches: A Transformative Mentoring Intervention: A group mentoring program that helps justice-involved young adults transform the attitudes and behaviors that led to their criminal activity.
Advocate Intervene Mentor: An intensive mentoring and advocacy program for high-risk youth facing the highest probability of out-of-home placement as a result of Family Court delinquency decision.
About the Young Men’s Initiative
Announced in August 2011, the Young Men’s Initiative is the nation’s most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men. Through broad policy changes and agency reforms, a public-private partnership will invest in programs that will connect young men to educational, employment, and mentoring opportunities across more than a dozen city agencies. The Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), established in 2006 by Mayor Bloomberg to implement innovative ways to reduce poverty in New York City, is responsible for overseeing implementation and evaluation for many of the programs within the Young Men’s Initiative. Support for the Initiative is being provided by Open Society Foundations and Bloomberg Philanthropies through grants to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and The Fund for Public Schools.