Amidst growing concerns about juvenile crime, the cities of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center created the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth, a governing board of top level decision-makers, bound together as one group, to address regional youth issues and create a vision and action plan for positive youth development in the Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park areas. By effectively coordinating their efforts, they have maximized their resources and streamlined their systems. The Alliance is a joint powers agreement between the two cities, Hennepin County, four area school districts, and two community colleges.
The Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth exists to give youth aged 10-19 a chance to thrive by connecting them to learning opportunities afterschool and during the summer. They seek to create a community in which youth experience increased graduation rates, increased pathways to college and career, and decreased experiences of violence. The Alliance focuses on four areas: access to after school and summer opportunities; quality programming; coordinating the sharing of data, resources and best practices among the diverse members; and using and raising public and private resources that are available to help accomplish the Alliance’s mission. The Alliance created Brooklyns Connect, an online program locator that serves as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to find information on afterschool and summer programs in the Brooklyns. It is not a static resource guide, but a resource updated every quarter to help parents find up to date program information. There are a total of 33 organizations represented in the program locator with approximately 500 programs listed; 231 of them newly added during 2015. Both cities’ Geographic Information Services (GIS) teams produced various maps to help the Alliance see the locations of programs layered against census data of where youth reside to demonstrate the accessibility and walkability of programs or the lack thereof.
Leadership in both cities have been strong supporters of the Alliance and of the program locator. The cities purchased the software tool for the Alliance to manage and operationalize. Various city departments are partners and provide program information to incorporate into the program locator. The cities also provide front line program staff to the Alliance and promote the locator through the cities’ communications vehicles.
The initial cost for the software tool was $40,000 provided by the City of Brooklyn Park. The cities collectively invest $123,800 a year. The Alliance also raises additional funding to support the work. Alliance partners pay annual fees that support staff and operational costs.
The joint powers members, City of Brooklyn Park, the City of Brooklyn Center, Hennepin County, four area school districts, and two community colleges, make up the core partners. Local non-profits, social service organizations, and other youth servicing orgs make up the partners that are identified on the program locator. Furthermore an access team provides face-to-face community engagement to directly connect with parents, teachers, cops, youth workers, and social workers so that they can active partners of the Alliance.
The program locator data, coupled with a parent survey, and a youth to youth survey helped the Alliance see that there are no major non-profit partners in the community with a positive youth development focus such as Big Brother, Big Sister, YMCA, or Boys and Girls Club. The database helped community leaders understand that they lived in a “program desert” and have begun conversations to bring the YMCA to their community in 2020.
The Alliance used some of the program locator information to map the geographic isolation of youth to make the case to city council for a Mobile Recreation program. Thanks to broad support from all sides, the Alliance successfully achieved a $130,000 investment from the cities to add to $10,000 in funding from the Alliance and $10,000 from Youthprise that the Alliance received as a matching grant from the statewide intermediary. The Alliance’s goal is to expand recreation opportunities to non-participating youth. To date, they have successfully reached 6,240 youth participants out of roughly 15,000 youth age 10-19 in the Brooklyns.
Insititute for Youth, Education, and Families
The Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth
Rebecca J. Gilgen, Executive Director
6150 Summit Drive North – Suite 200
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
Last Modified: March 2016