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LOS ANGELES – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today announced a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to expand gang reduction efforts citywide. The Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) was created in 2007 to combat gang violence in Los Angeles and has since become a national model of innovation.
The Mayor also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to partner to reduce gang violence in the Western Hemisphere. The MOU will export GRYD’s best practices to Central and Latin America.
“Sometimes gang violence spills from one country into another,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “This sharing of expertise will not only help our neighbors but will strengthen our efforts in Los Angeles. By helping USAID attack the gang violence in Central and Latin America, we are working to reduce related gang violence here.”
The MOU focuses on citizen security initiatives in Latin America, the region with the highest homicide rate in the world. USAID will benefit from Los Angeles’ leadership combating gang violence and promoting youth development.
“Los Angeles learned how to combat violence and we want to use our joint expertise to aggressively tackle citizen insecurity in the Americas,” said Rajiv Shah, Administrator for USAID. “We have a common interest in improving citizen security in Latin America and must continue to foster opportunities, especially for youth who comprise 50% of the region’s population.”
As part of the agreement, GRYD will:
- Serve as an advisor on USAID’s citizen security programming for the region.
- Share best practices and technical knowledge with USAID staff and regional program implementers.
- Collaborate on specific at-risk youth initiatives.
- Assist with city-to-city partnerships and best practices.
The first initiative of this new partnership will be the adaptation of the Youth Services Eligibility Tool (YSET) in the Northern Triangle of Central America, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. YSET was developed in collaboration with USC and helps gang prevention workers focus services on those 10-15 year olds that are at the highest risk of becoming gang members.
The partnership between Los Angeles and USAID builds upon the U.S. Government’s Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). USAID’s efforts support social prevention and rule of law programming, specifically working with municipalities, community police, at-risk youth, and criminal courts. To date, USAID has established 80 outreach centers for at-risk youth in the Northern Triangle countries and Panama.