Milwaukee County Announces 'Credible Messenger' Youth Mentorship Program
The Sherman Park Boys and Girls Club in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park was the backdrop for an announcement Wednesday about a new mentoring program for Milwaukee-area youth involved in the criminal justice system. The location was fitting as just a couple of weeks ago, a 17-year-old was fatally shot in the park.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said the new “Credible Messenger” program represents a new sort of investment for the county.
“The county is planning to go into the community to learn what is sparking these conflicts and more importantly, what do people in their communities and their neighborhoods need in order to avoid violent crime in the first place,” he said.
Crowley said the county’s vision of racial equity cannot be achieved until the county acknowledges that it has neglected and underserved certain communities for generations. He said it is in that spirit that the county now moves forward.
“The Credible Messenger program highlights an approach to public safety that looks at the needs of the community and seeks to shift resources to address the many needs of the underserved,” said Crowley.
Initially, the program will serve up to 68 youth. While participation will not be court ordered, the young people will have to be involved with the criminal justice system to take part. Over the years, there’s been a concerted effort in Milwaukee County to send fewer people to the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls in northern Wisconsin. The money for the mentorship program is coming from dollars that would have paid to house young people at the juvenile detention centers.
Kweku TeAngelo Cargile works for Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention. He said he wants young people to know that they have not been forgotten.
“We see you. We hear you. We know this year has been difficult. There are so many things we want to do for you, and we’re doing those things, we just haven’t gotten that information to you. Know we’re coming for you, we’re looking for you and we will support you,” Cargile said.
Twenty-three mentors are coming together from five community-based organizations that for decades have been doing similar work to provide the mentorship. The organizations include WestCare, Running Rebels, 414 Life, The Milwaukee Christian Center and Youth Advocate Program.