We Belong was created to help at-risk Boston teens gain key leadership skills that allow them to be productive members of their communities. The program participants come from low-income communities plagued with violence, gangs, drugs, and other obstacles that push them away from their success. These youth rarely get the opportunity to partake in programs that help to maximize their potential to create promising futures or careers.
The purpose of the program is to show participants that they can be a voice in the community and offer value to the community via public service and community outreach. The Boston Police Officers assigned to the Bureau of Community Engagement work with School staff members city-wide to select juniors and seniors from various Boston schools. They work to identify at-risk youth across the city to join the program. These referrals came from school administrators, guidance counselors, teachers and the relationships the Officers build with students in the schools and the community.
Program objectives of We Belong include:
- To empower youth to take action in their community through education, advocacy, community service and exposure to public service.
- To create a safe space for at-risk inner-city students to share thoughts and explore the realm of public service and other career sectors.
- To form youth leaders in the community, while getting the students to think about their career. Community leaders and the Boston Police mentor the youth and open their thoughts and ideas.
- To get students involved in fun and engaging conversations and activities to explore their true potential and curiosities.
- To encourage the youth to speak up and be the voice and change agent they would like to be in their community.
- To teach youth about personal branding and the importance of understanding their identity.
- To create lasting connections between the youth and the Boston Police Officers.
- To create a network of youth champions that will help guide the youth to their success.
The 2019 annual trip to Washington D.C. is the highlight of the We Belong: Empowering Youth Through Leadership Program established to help young people succeed by connecting them with civic leaders, nonprofit and business executives and elected officials.