Power of Purpose was created out of a need to find relevant solutions to the violence, crime, and cycle of criminal justice involvement plaguing youth ages 14 to 18 in the Bronx, NY.
Youth in the Bronx are not just at-risk, they are high-risk for becoming court involved, gang involved, and perpetrators of violence.
The Bronx contains some of America’s poorest neighborhoods, and the violent crime rate in the Bronx is considerably higher than the national average.
- In 2015, the Melrose, Mott Haven and Port Morris sections of the Bronx had the biggest increase in major crimes in all of New York City.
- The Bronx has the second highest number of street gangs and crews in New York City.
- Gun violence, in particular, is higher in the Bronx than in other boroughs.
- Adolescents in the Bronx are committing a disproportionate number of violent crimes.
- In fact, the biggest danger faced by Bronx teens in the past 10 years is dying from gun violence.
- The South Bronx, Morris Heights and Soundview sections of the Bronx have some of the highest number of youth in juvenile detention facilities and at Riker’s Island than in other areas of New York City.
- It is no coincidence that these neighborhoods in the Bronx also have some of the highest levels of poverty, poor housing and underperforming schools in New York City. In 2014, the Bronx had the highest high-school dropout rate out of all 5 boroughs
- And the lowest graduation rate out of all of the state of New York’s 62 counties.
- For African-American and Hispanic male students, the Bronx has the worst four-year high school graduation rate in the country.
These statistics demonstrate the unfortunate truth that when poor, uneducated youth search for their purpose in an environment fraught with poverty and violence, the result is often manifested in gang involvement and crime. Involvement in the criminal justice system can be a catalyst to a bleak future—a future without education, without meaningful employment and career opportunities a future without purpose that leads back to the criminal justice system.