Broome County Gang Prevention Inc. (BCGP), a certified 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is owned and operated by the Binghamton Housing Authority (BHA) and became operational in June 2001. BCGP is dedicated to street and school-based outreach and street and in-school interventions and mediations that help resolve conflict. BCGP's mission is the deterrence of youth violence, crime and gang activity through coordinated community resources, awareness, education, and created opportunities for youth and their families. Importantly, BCGP was formed in direct response to urgent requests from parents, schools and community members concerned about the increasing signs of youth gang activity in neighborhoods throughout Broome County. The current program caseload is indicative of the increased risk levels of gang activity throughout Broome County. As a community resource and part of the coordinated effort in preventing and reducing youth crime and gang activity on the streets of the City of Binghamton, the organization provides an essential service to children of extremely low-income families while being an integral factor to lowering youth crime in our City.
BCGP's main function is to provide co-educational youth programs to Binghamton's youth, ages 6-18 in order to connect youth and families with appropriate supportive services, with BCGP diligently providing quality support through programming in school, as well as through afterschool and summer programming to some of Binghamton's most disadvantaged and vulnerable youth. Through the in-school, Afterschool and Summer Youth Program, Broome County Gang Prevention lives its purpose to give kids alternatives to being on the streets through providing stability, security, caring relationships and a place of belonging.
BCGP’s in-school programming provides staff to be in two middle schools and the high school in Binghamton to serve over 200 students. The program staff collaborate with teachers, administrators, parents, and community organizations to help identified students be more successful. A cohort is identified each year by the school administrators looking at attendance, disciplinary referrals and academic performance. BCGP focuses help for this group of students and their families to get to the core of what is keeping the student from success and helps to address those issues through structured caring relationship, daily check ins, home visits, mediation, communication within the school, and collaboration with community organizations. The school program was set up at a time of crisis at the schools, with violence and behavioral issues at a level school staff and administrators felt unequipped to handle, and disturbingly low rates of graduation and attendance. While there are other supports in school and programs that help certain populations of students, BCGP was essentially meant to target the students who no one else knew how to connect with. The staff working for BCGP are expertly skilled and able to help the most hard-to-reach students stay in school and access their potential.
Broome County Gang Prevention Afterschool and Summer Youth Programs provide a safe, structured environment, which involves educational activities that are instrumental in the academic success of the youth who attend. Youth are required to do their homework each day and are helped by staff and teen mentors to develop their reading, math, and science skills for future success. Both program centers have two complete gyms where students are required to participate each day in healthy physical activities like basketball, volleyball, and other games that help the youth to become healthier, and learn skills that require teamwork, develop confidence, and promote emotional wellness. The program also participates in the Dick's Open Golf Tournament where staff from the City of Binghamton introduce golfing to the youth. This coincides with a visit to the Dick's Open to talk to and be mentored by professional golfers. The afterschool program also continues to provide trips for the youth to a variety of destinations in Broome County, including Laurel Bowling, Skate Estate, AMC Theatres, the Broome County Fair, and more. Emphasis is also placed on introducing the arts, with unique trips to the opera, theatre, and community dance recitals as part of the programming.
The program runs five days per week afterschool for 43 weeks. In both communities, the afterschool program is held Monday through Friday from 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm. In addition, BCGP provides a summer program within both communities at Carlisle and Saratoga’s Housing Authority for nine weeks, Monday through Friday from 10:00am until 4:00pm. Thus, the program runs all 52 weeks of the year. In summary, the indispensable program is designed to benefit an extremely low-income part of the City of Binghamton. Further, the program offers a nutritional hot meal and snacks to children daily during both the school year and summer months. The existence of BCGP in the community offers children an option -- one of character-building and community -- that they may not otherwise ever have in the harsh realities of living in poverty.
BCGP differs from other afterschool and summer programming options in several respects. While there is childcare availability, and some afterschool and summer programming is provided for children under age 12, there are no other afterschool or summer programs like the one run by BCGP in the vicinity of the BHA family sites at Carlisle and Saratoga in Binghamton. Other programs, such as the afterschool program at the Boys and Girls Club, are not accessible to public housing students due to lack of transportation. By meeting the need where it most exists, BCGG is able to circumvent one of the largest detriments to community engagement and participation by those living in poverty, which is lack of transportation. Importantly, another key differentiating factor of the program is its provision of a hot meal offered to students daily. For some children, dinners would not be available but for that provided by the afterschool and summer programs. In doing so, the program helps alleviate yet another obstacle that low-income families must face - food insecurity and hunger.
BCGP’s in-school, Afterschool and Summer Youth programs work to prevent and reduce youth crime and gang activity in the City of Binghamton. While its programs are directly applicable to youth, its work impacts local families as well, who rely on BCGP for connections to school and also afterschool care brings connection to valuable services. Binghamton has long suffered from the impacts of generational poverty, gang violence, and drug related crimes. BCGP attempts to insulate youth from these community issues and works to address them by educating area youth about the impacts of youth crime and gang activity. The in school, afterschool and summer programs provide a safe haven for school children aged 6-18 and provides them with a healthy social outlet. The sense of community helps children flourish in the face of economic adversity.
Provision of these services, and the community's continued access to these services, improves quality of life for some of Binghamton's poorest and primarily underserved, disenfranchised youth. The program has lost over $200,000 in funding from the school district in light of the district’s budget cuts exacerbated by Covid-19 pandemic. This has meant we’ve had to make cuts to staff and programming. Without leveraged support, the program is in jeopardy of being severely reduced or eliminated altogether. Continued availability of a program such as this one is critical and promotes greater youth engagement, participation, and educational attainment. It can mean the difference between a life of a good citizen versus a life of crime. BCGP's short term goals of the program are continued youth engagement through adequate enrollment and participation, provision of daily meals, and activities which encourage academic interest, social participation, and health. While long term goals include deterrence of youth crime, gang activity, and personal enrichment of participating children and families.