The Brownsville Youth Leadership Council was convened in 2020 by the Brownsville Community Justice Center to address the root causes of violence in their community, support youth leadership, and develop creative solutions to heal community trauma. Hester Street partnered with these youth leaders to develop a community safety action plan. We developed curricula to educate the youth on various types of data and data collection methods, prepared them to facilitate focus groups with community members, and developed tools to help them synthesize and summarize their findings.

This culminated in the development of a comprehensive Community Safety Action Plan that clearly articulates six key actions policymakers can take to improve community safety in Brownsville. Youth leaders presented this action plan to their community board, where they advocated for expanded youth programming, policing reforms, investments in harm reduction services for youth who cope with violence by using drugs, more support for counselors and programming to support mental and physical wellbeing, access to healthy food, and support for local businesses, and much more.