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#27 – Divert Immigrant Teens from Joining Gangs

Train leaders to organize effective programming and help immigrant youth navigate acculturation into the U.S.

The Situation 

The St. Louis metropolitan area has been one of the fastest-growing areas in the country for immigrants, both documented and undocumented. Latinx youth are increasingly vulnerable to gang activity. 

Mothers often work two jobs at odd hours, their children are not always provided with the kind of adult supervision they need. Families cannot spend much quality time together.  Most of children are becoming acculturated faster than their parents.  Some are ashamed of their parents who are not picking up English as well as they are.  Those from ten years of age through young adulthood begin to experience alienation from their family and are becoming more vulnerable to gang influences. Teenagers are often on their own or have significant responsibility for caring for their younger siblings. They are adopting the customs and habits of their teenage peers, further alienating them from their families.  Family tensions are high. 

Sisters’ Response 

Sr. Rosario Bobadilla has worked in the Hispanic community for decades. She founded a group of 20 Latinx leaders, informally called Unidos en Christos, to respond to the needs of newly arrived immigrants. In the last 6 months, they have worked with 345 families providing over 1,700 hours of service and support. 

Sr. Rosario and 3 of the leaders have been working with 20 teenagers who are at risk of being lured into gangs. Now they wish to expand this work by offering leadership sessions and a series of engaging activities with 100 at-risk youth. Through these activities, they will identify and train 10 youth leaders who will act in partnership with the three adult volunteers to engage in outreach to at-risk youth and participate in planning engaging activities. 

Funds Needed:  

$5,000 to fund youth leader training and programming 

It is crucial to identify and train a group of 10 youth leaders who can understand the issues facing immigrant youth and together with the adult leaders (Unidos en Christo) organize effective programs to engage the youth within their ethnic and faith community while assisting them to continue to navigate their acculturation into the United States.  Training, support, and funds for programming will enable these youth and adult leaders to continue to intervene through these informal networks.   

  • 10 youth engaged in leadership development for 15 sessions – $1,000 (Leadership Development program will be led by Sr. Rosario with assistance from the Unidos en Christo leaders) 
  • Day-long workshops for teenagers $1,000 for 4 workshops-$6,000 (food for 3 meals, snacks and ending with a live-band performance evening) 

Systemic Impact 

Latinx leaders will divert 95% of those youth they engage from gang activity for 5 years. 

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