City Spotlight: Supporting Positive Youth Development in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

With the belief that young people can be change agents in their communities, Minnesota’s Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth was created in 2008. The Alliance was formed through a joint powers agreement between two cities, four school districts, one county and two higher education institutions to serve as a Joint Powers Board for the communities of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park.

The shared vision of both cities contributes to the Alliance’s mission to “cooperatively support positive youth development in afterschool opportunities for all youth in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park, assuring the success of all youth by challenging the conditions that diminish their hope by connecting them to trusted adults who are invested in their healthy development and mastery of essential skills.”

In 2012, the Alliance, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Park Police Department and Recreation Department, hired three young adults to replicate a 2008 Youth Survey conducted by the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (YVPI). The survey was implemented to collect primary data on youth in Brooklyn Park, specifically in target areas where the YVPI had been focusing on increasing participation in afterschool activities and decreasing youth crime and victimization. Comparison with the 2008 survey was made along three measures: current participation in youth programs, top five youth program interests and top five barriers to participation.

A comparative analysis of the 2008 and 2012 Youth Surveys demonstrated that after an expansion of recreation programming and community policing efforts, youth participation in afterschool activities increased by 62 percent and juvenile crime decreased by 39 percent over the four-year period.

As a result of the 2012 survey, the Alliance helped create the Brooklyn Youth Council. This council is operated and supported by the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth Advisory Team, a representative body of adults and youth from both Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park that are actively engaged in policy- and decision-making.

Recently, the Alliance successfully launched Brooklyns Connect!, an online database with information from Alliance member organizations that are currently offering 185 programs.

To learn more about the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance, contact Rebecca Gilgen and visit the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth.