By Suffolk DA Dan Conley
Some of the most important work we do as prosecutors is not inside the walls of a courtroom but out in the community. In particular, guiding young people toward positive influences, helping them avoid unhealthy choices, and supporting safe activities is vital to ensuring their wellbeing and that of our communities. But no single agency can achieve this goal alone – it’s in partnership with non-profit agencies across Suffolk County that we best serve our youth.
For that reason, I’m pleased to invite our non-profit partners in Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop to apply for awards through our annual Community Reinvestment Grant program. The program provides cash and assets seized during Suffolk County narcotics trafficking prosecutions to youth service providers and funds their efforts to guide young people away from negative behavior and bad decisions that could harm their futures. Last year, we delivered more than $65,000 to 11 organizations to support programs ranging from job training to afterschool tutoring, arts enrichment, and culturally competent substance abuse prevention efforts. Many of last year’s recipients were first-time applicants to the program, and each was selected for their commitment to serving our communities and their proven track record of offering high-quality programs to young people across Suffolk County.
The grant program, however, is about more than an opportunity for funding. It also presents the opportunity to strengthen our network of community partners in order to meet the needs of the diverse neighborhoods spanning Suffolk County. It’s through collaboration and partnership that we can best serve our young people. These grants have served as a launching point for many of my office’s deeply valued relationships with community agencies – relationships that last long after the funding period has ended.
Community organizations play an important job in the work we as prosecutors do on behalf of our youth. Earlier this year, my office launched an innovative juvenile diversion pilot program that guides kids away from the criminal justice system and into comprehensive community-based services tailored to help them get back on the right track. This program – like so many public safety initiatives – would not be possible without the work of our non-profit, youth-oriented partners.
Through the Community Reinvestment Grants, my office is able to provide financial support to youth non-profits at no cost to taxpayers: every cent comes from assets seized during the investigation and prosecution of drug distribution cases. As a result, my office has diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money toward programs that help keep kids away from drugs, gangs, and the violence they inflict on our communities. State auditors have repeatedly praised the program for turning “the profits of crime into something positive for the community,” while carefully documenting all forfeiture-related income and expenditures.
Applications are currently available at http://www.suffolkdistrictattorney.com/partnerships-and-prevention/community-reinvestment-grants/. I encourage any non-profit serving Suffolk County youth to apply for one of this year’s grants. Our non-profit partners are key to helping prosecutors, police, and municipal leaders achieve our shared goal of ensuring the wellbeing and success of our youth, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to once again this year provide support for their vital work.
Dan Conley is the current Suffolk County District Attorney.