Youth Engagement and Safety Strategy (YESS)

  • Community stakeholders, including law enforcement, community providers, and credible messengers, tackle low to medium-risk youth engaged in gun violence​
  • Provide recommendations to the DJS Secretary
  • Serve as technical assistance and an advisory board to The Thrive Academy (TTA)

The Thrive Academy (TTA)

The Department hopes to reduce shooting incidents among the youth we work with. The core of DJS’ gun violence reduction strategy is The Thrive Academy, which launched in Baltimore County and Baltimore City in September, and will launch in Prince George’s County before the end of 2023. DJS has identified a number of youth residing in these jurisdictions who are determined to be at a heightened risk for involvement in gun violence, either as a victim or perpetrator. Youth are selected through a combination of human intelligence and data-driven factors identified through analysis of young people involved in gun violence over the past three years.

Young people who are selected for the Thrive Academy will receive a robust set of services, supports, and supervision for a period of four to six months. Each youth is assigned a specially-selected DJS case manager and a Life Coach from one of three local organizations staffed by “credible messengers” - individuals who have had life experiences similar to those of the program participants, and therefore are better able to make connections with and relate to the youth. Credible Messenger Life Coaching services are provided by Continuous Growth in Baltimore County, We Our Us in Baltimore City, and CM3 in Prince George’s County. The Life Coaches will intervene with the young person at an intensive level, including 4-5 contacts per day Monday through Friday and on-call 24 hour emergency access on weekends.

Community Investment

DJS is working closely with the Departments of Public Safety and Correctional Services and Human Services to invest resources in Maryland communities with the highest number of shared clients as part of Governor Moore’s “all-of-government” approach to reducing crime and improving communities. This initiative is in its early stages but is based on successful efforts in other jurisdictions.

Safe Summer

Governor Moore provided $5 Million dollars to launch the Safe Summer initiative, funds were given to 12 Maryland counties with high rates of gun violence to occupy young people in safe and productive activities.

DJS staff were challenged to find new ways to engage youth over the summer and beyond.​ Throughout the state youth participated in activities - things like service to their communities and athletic activities.