Press Release

To Reduce Lure of Gangs, Senator Gillibrand Working Hard to Create Opportunities for Low Income Youth

Mar 26, 2009

Washington, D.C.  – New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the passage of the Serve America Act will provide low income urban youth with service opportunities that will help limit the lure of gangs and reduce gun violence in many New York communities.

“I am working hard in Washington to provide service opportunities to young people in low income communities to combat the lure of gangs and reduce gun violence in communities across New York,” Senator Gillibrand said.  “We all have a responsibility to ensure there are better, brighter opportunities for this generation.  If we are successful, we will create safer communities that are free of gangs.”

Senator Gillibrand’s action will help Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA’s, Habitat for Humanity chapters, faith-based groups, and various organizations that provide service opportunities specifically targeting neighborhoods with low high school graduation rates.  Young people will now have more opportunities to build homes, restore the environment, respond to disasters, volunteer to help the elderly and participate in after-school recreation programs.

Last month at Nazareth High School in Brooklyn, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand met with students and parents from a community deeply affected by gun violence.  She listened intently as students described the problems of gangs in their community and asked for resources for after school programs to offer an alternative. This bill does exactly that.

“We desperately need this program and I commend Senator Gillibrand for her work,” said Barbara Gil, principal of Nazareth High School in Brooklyn, who recently lost a young student to gun violence.  “One of our central components at Nazareth is a commitment to service.  This is something that’s critically important because it enriches our community.”

The Serve America Act will provide more than 250,000 opportunities nationwide by investing approximately $6 billion in new service initiatives and existing service programs. 

These programs include:

  • A brand new National Service program to create Youth Engagement Zones to strengthen communities, which will provide competitive grants to partnerships between local educational agencies that serve high-need, low-income communities and certain community-based or state entities to engage students and out-of-school youth in service-learning that address specific challenges faced by their communities.
  • A Summer of Service program for middle and high school students that will engage youth in service during the summer time and provide important benefits to the communities in which they live through volunteer service.
  • The Learn and Serve America program, which provides funding to schools, colleges, and nonprofit groups to help engage more than 38,000 New York students in service-learning projects that improve communities and foster responsible citizens.