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Violence-Free Zone

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The Milwaukee Violence Free Zone (MVFZ) is a collaboration between the Center For Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE), The Latino Community Center (LCC), The Running Rebels Community Organization (RRCO) and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).  The purpose of the project is to join with MPS teachers, safety workers and administrative staff to improve the overall safety and learning atmosphere within each VFZ school site.  The goal of the Milwaukee Violence Free Zone Program is to work closely with at least 150 chronically disruptive youth at each of the assigned schools to reduce violent incidents, reduce suspensions, reduce truancy, increase attendance (school and class), increase grade point averages (GPA), and positively change each school's overall environment.

 

The VFZ program is not court-ordered and students only have to be enrolled at one of the assigned VFZ schools to be eligible for services. Currently, there are 6 VFZ schools in Milwaukee. The Running Rebels Community Organization (RRCO) operates within Hamilton High School, S.C.T.E., Washington High School, Vincent High School, Roosevelt Middle School, and Lincoln School of the Arts. The VFZ team at each school site is comprised of six youth advisors and one site supervisor.

 

The VFZ youth advisors work within these schools to build relationships with the at-risk youth and chronic disrupters. These youth advisors are mature young adults who are from the same neighborhoods as students in the schools. These youth advisors are able to gain the trust and respect of the students they work with because they have faced and overcame similar challenges as the youth. They serve as mentors, conflict resolvers, and positive role models in and outside of school.

The VFZ staff provides: mentoring, one-on-one academic support, mediations, after school programming and support to school staff. Mentoring services are provided to address the deficiencies in attendance, low academic achievement, violent incidents and suspensions among the target group. Through mentoring and relationship building, the youth advisors are able to provide students with encouragement and connection to the school which helps reduce some of the barriers that prevent the students from coming to school. 
One-on-One academic support is provided to the students to help increase GPA's.  Mediations are also conducted to assist the students with resolving issues peacefully. Through mediations VFZ staff is able to give students conflict and resolutions strategies which prevents them from getting into fights that would lead to a school suspension.  The following are some of the after school services that the Milwaukee Violence Free Program-RRCO currently provides: male and female discussion groups, homework help, POWER (book club), exposure to college fairs and fieldtrips etc…..

GROPPI Owls takes 1st Place

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VFZ-Running Rebels was introduced to Groppi High School in November 2011 and upon arrival VFZ youth advisor Mr.  Kevin Gaines noticed that Groppi had no athletic programs and he felt that the entire school would greatly benefit from having a basketball team. Kevin Gaines understands the importance of  mentoring because he has been apart of the Running Rebels Community Organization since the age of 10 and was personally mentored and coached by Victor Barnett (Executive Director for the Running Rebels Community Organization). Mr. Gaines agreed to assemble and coach a team for Groppi High School. He entered the Groppi Boys Basketball Team (The Owls) into the PAC 8 Basketball League which was created for Milwaukee's Alternative High School Youth.

Although the boy's Groppi team lost their first two games, the team didn’t give up and went on to win their first championship on 2/16/2012 which was held at the Boys and Girls Club (1975 South 24th Street). The final score was Groppi 47 and Lynx 41. Many MPS staff, parents and VFZ staff members supported and cheered the Owls on to victory.

The win was amazing and I’m sure many of the young boys who won have never won anything in their entire lives. I am also sure that many of these young men have been constantly told that they would never amount to anything but I know that this win will give the young men a new found sense of confidence but most importantly will forever change their lives but also elevate Groppi's student school pride thus positively impacting Groppi’s overall school environment.


2012 Black Heritage Knowledge Bowl

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VFZ youth from Washington High School participated in the 2012 Black Heritage Bowl presented by the Northside YMCA (1350 W North Avenue). The competition took place on Saturday, February 25, 2012.  The Washington team did a great job, they scored a total of 1700 points which was one of the highest scores in round one.  It was apparent that the girls took a lot of time out to study for this competition, again great job to James Sokolowski and Sheila Morgan for taking time from their full schedule to help the girls study and prepare for the competition.

 

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