Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland to manage Peacemakers Alliance

Cleveland Foundation announces $800,000 grant to support transition and continue violence prevention efforts

Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, a nonprofit organization that provides safe places for kids in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, is stepping up its efforts to curb street violence by taking over management of the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, a 7-year-old anti-crime initiative.

BGCC President Ron Soeder said the Peacemakers Alliance, which works in cooperation with the Cleveland Police Department and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, will be owned, operated and managed by Boys & Girls Clubs. The group had been operating as a coalition of agencies, including Peace in the Hood, Ikons, No Return and the Guardian Angels, with the Boys & Girls Clubs serving in a limited role as a fiduciary agent for the coalition.

Soeder said the BGCC’s management of Peacemakers Alliance will take effect immediately.

“We are thrilled to be able to take on this important responsibility,” he said. “Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland has always worked in the neighborhoods where we are needed most, and we should be in the conversation when there are discussions about ways to curb crime in our community.”

He added, “We do not intend to shy away from the fight just because it is a difficult arena in which to operate. We recognized what is at stake here — the safety of the kids in our community.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs is currently interviewing candidates for the Peacemakers Alliance director’s position. Former Peacemakers Alliance President and CEO Reggie Rucker has resigned.

The Peacemakers Alliance employs outreach workers – including some former gang members – who have street credibility. The group is involved in mediation, gang interaction, violence prevention, conflict resolution, case management, family services and intervention following violent incidents.

“This is a valuable program for our city and its neighborhoods,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank G Jackson. “This is a meaningful and innovative way of helping Cleveland residents continue to experience a better quality of life.”

Funding for the initiative includes support from the Cleveland Foundation, which today announced a grant of $800,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs to continue the efforts of the Peacemakers Alliance in the community.

“There is nothing more critical to the future of our community than the safety of our residents,” said Ronn Richard, President and CEO, Cleveland Foundation. “Our board of directors is proud to continue our long-standing support of the Peacemakers Alliance and applauds the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland for ensuring this proven model of violence prevention continues in the year ahead.”

Soeder said Peacemakers Alliance will be housed at a separate location, not at one of BGCC’s current Clubs, and that all Peacemakers workers will now be directly supervised by BGCC.

The Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance was founded in 2009 and currently represents five police districts throughout the city of Cleveland. The Alliance trains selected members of the community — trusted insiders — to anticipate where violent youth crimes may occur and intervene before it erupts. It strives to engage the entire community to change behavior and recognize that violence is an ineffective way to resolve conflict.

Founded in 1954, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland serves nearly 8,000 youths each year. The Clubs provide a safe, fun place for children to learn and grow, to develop ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, to engage in life-enhancing programs and to create a culture of hope and opportunity. Clubs are open each day after school and, at many locations, on Saturdays.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland is headquartered on Broadway Avenue in Cleveland and operates at 14 locations in Cleveland, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights.

BGCC’s mission is to inspire and enable young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.