Last night’s Youth and Family Initiative meeting, held at Garfield Community center, contained all the educational talking points of the last meetings:
“No child starts behind…40 percent of students miss 10 or more days a year... need to hold ourselves accountable to our ideals…how can we say it’s not possible to give every child hope?”
But the meeting also contained these two fresh successes:
1) Bake sale.
2) Mariko Lockhart, director of the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.
Among the 375 other attendees in the crowded gym sat Lockhart, not saying much, just quietly recording notes for her small group. Lockhart runs the $8 million dollar, two-year program that aims to cut youth violence in half in central, southeast and southwest Seattle by July 2010. (And then, supposedly, cut it in half again the following year.)
She will tell you that at every meeting she's attended, people stress their concerns about youth violence and youth employment. If you ask her nicely, she will also tell you that she’s on top of it. “We just received preliminary data in violence-attributed expulsions for middle school youth,” she says, “and that number is trending down.”
Lockhart won’t give any concrete numbers—she’s waiting to get juvenile court referrals, another measure of youth violence—but adds that while expulsions are going down in initiative schools, the number is on the rise in non-initiative schools.
Also, she also plans to match last year's program of 200 youth jobs.
So we’re on track to see a 50 percent decrease in youth violence by July?
“Fifty percent was an aspirational goal,” Lockhart back-tracks, “not one funded in any research.” But, she adds, we're on the right track.