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First Quarter Reports Show Positive Results of Violence-Free Zone by oyr19245

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									FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  For information:
January 24, 2008                                                       Heather Humphries, CNE
                                                                       202-518-6500 (office) or 540-454-
                                                                       3204(cell)

                                                                       Scott Larrivee, Mueller Communications
                                                                       414-390-5500

                                              MEDIA RELEASE

         First Quarter Reports Show Positive Results of
       Violence-Free Zone Program on Students, Schools
        24 Students from Six Milwaukee High Schools to Be Honored at
             January 29 Banquet for Succeeding Against the Odds

First quarter reports from students and Milwaukee Public Schools officials indicate the youth violence reduction
program that was expanded to six high schools last fall is producing some very positive results. The program is
the Violence-Free Zone initiative, created by the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and carried out in the
schools by CNE community partners the Latino Community Center and Running Rebels Community
Organization.

Results reported by the Milwaukee Public Schools regarding suspensions, violent and nonviolent incidents
indicate significant improvements at the six schools for the first quarter of this school year compared with the
same period last year. MPS will announce more details and results of other schools in February. Overall
numbers for the six schools look very good. Unexcused absences were essentially the same. But suspensions
as a percentage of the school populations for each year were reduced by a total of 6 percentage points. Total
violent incidents for the six schools combined were down 25%, and nonviolent incidents were down 23%.

Superintendent William Andrekopoulos has praised the VFZ project. “I think that if you’re looking for things that
make significant change -- and as superintendents you look for what are the things that give you significant
impact, not little impact, not incremental impact, not continuous improvement, but significant change -- this is a
program that will bring about significant change in the culture of a school and community.”

Individual students interviewed for a videotaped Report to the City talked about the impact on their lives. “They
helped me with my temper. If anybody said anything to me, I would be ready to fight. But the Running Rebels
sat me down and showed me a better way. And I’m pretty sure every young man in here can say that it’s helped
them,” said Slyvester Stewart, a junior at Custer High School.

Kevin Sullivan, a freshman at Custer High School, reports, “Last year I wasn’t doing so good in class. And then
when I came here, I had the Running Rebels help me out with my work and stuff. And they talked to me and
told me to go to class on time, when to be there, come to school. Like don’t skip, don’t be in the hallway running
around, don’t be getting into no trouble. Don’t be trying to act hard and show everybody that you’re going to be
the class clown. I came up with a 4.0 doing my work every day, going to class, staying on task.”

The two are among 24 Milwaukee Public Schools high schools students in the Violence-Free Zone program who
will be honored for improvements in behavior and academic achievement in the face of challenges. Stewart will
receive an award for turning his behavior around and Sullivan for his excellent grades. They will receive medals
and trophies at a banquet January 29 at the InterContinental Hotel, 139 East Kilbourn Street. Among those
honoring them will be Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent William Andrekopoulos,
school staff, and members of the business and philanthropic community.

The comments of students and MPS officials are part of the videotaped “Report to the City” that will be shown at
the awards banquet.

More than 700 students are enrolled in the Violence-Free Zone program at the six schools. This is a little more
than 10% of the school populations at Bay View, Custer, Marshall, North Division, South Division, and
Washington High Schools. The program is carried out in the schools by “Youth Advisors,” young adults from the
same background and experiences as the students. They are screened, hired, and managed by the Latino
Community Center and Running Rebels. The VFZ targets the high need young people as identified by school
staff in each school. Some students ask to join the program because they want help. The VFZ staff also recruits
students showing leadership qualities.

“We have found that the climate of a school is usually controlled by about 10% of the students. If we can reach
them, it will have a profound impact on the school,” said Robert L. Woodson, Sr., President of the Center for
Neighborhood Enterprise. “The VFZ Youth Advisors add another layer of support to the students,” he said. “They
work with and support the teachers, counselors, and security staff to produce the best possible result for each
student.”

“What the Violence-Free Zone people, the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise people, are doing is augmenting
our staff by doing some things that we’re not trained to do,” said MPS School Safety and Security Director Peter
Pochowski. “They address some of our high-risk kids. Mentoring is probably the term that comes to mind when I
watch them in action…They’ve got some experiences in life, and I think the kids respect that.”

”What we’re trying to do is to make our schools a safe place for our students and staffs. And it’s pretty clear that
with the assistance of these folks, that we’re able to minimize -- not eliminate entirely but certainly minimize and
reduce significantly the acts of violence, the fights,” he said.

In addition to the school activity, both community organizations have comprehensive after-school, weekend, and
summer programs that offer some of the most at-risk young people a safe haven and support at all times. LLC
and RRCO staff members also walk the streets to find and build relationships with young people where they
congregate and offer them help.

The Center for Neighborhood Enterprise was founded in 1981 by Robert L. Woodson, Sr., to help residents of
low-income neighborhoods address the problems of their communities. CNE provides training and technical
assistance and linkages to resources to community-based organizations. The Center’s Violence-Free Zone
initiative is being implemented in 27 high-risk urban schools around the country, including Antelope Valley, CA
(2); Atlanta (3); Baltimore (1); Dallas (10); Milwaukee (6); Washington, DC (3); and Prince George’s County, MD
(2).
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