The newly renamed community center, where Eisenhower will continue to run its Youth Safe Haven and Quantum Opportunities Program. At the podium is Eisenhower president and CEO, Alan Curtis.
Helping Revive Carver Terrace
Economic and youth development are key to continued success
Continued from “What’s News”
“The police weren’t really what drew our attention to the intersection,” Ervin said. “First, this hopped-up Mustang came fishtailing up the hill from 22nd Street, then peeled out at the intersection – just when the police arrived. We thought, for sure, that there was going to be a head-on collision with one of the cruisers. They all arrived at the same time.”
“The guy who was driving the Mustang would have been the one to get arrested, if the police hadn’t been so interested in those three pedestrians.”
Arrests made, the suspects were hauled away downtown. There, but by the grace of God, go the children of Carver Terrace.
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It’s no secret that Carver Terrace is in a tough part of town. The need is critical for its Youth Safe Haven-Police Ministation and its Quantum Opportunities Program – a four-year, computer-based remedial-education course. The new Hartsfield Center comes equipped with these two programs, with recreation, a rental office, tenants’ association office, and a small retail outlet added. In 1993, Eisenhower and Telesis merged resources to begin building hope at Carver Terrace.
The after-school programs have similar goals: improving grades and giving students an alternative to risky after-school behavior. The safe-haven ministation gives police officers – who serve as mentors – time to perform valuable community policing, while students enjoy a safe place to catch up on homework and stay out of trouble during critical, often unsupervised, after-school hours.
Under the Youth Safe Haven-Police Ministation model, newly assigned officers and local students share the same space within a housing community. As officers become mentors to the students, partnerships develop. Grades improve. Homework gets done. The kids stay off the streets and out of trouble.
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After the excitement was over and Rev. Corbin gave the introduction, he was followed by remarks from Mrs. Williams; Milton Bailey, of the DC Housing Finance Agency; and Dr. Alan Curtis, president and CEO of Eisenhower. Words from Melvin L. Hartsfield, Patsy’s widower, were especially effective, and he cut the ribbon at program’s end.
Marilyn Melkonian, president of Telesis, at dedication
Partnerships are the Key
Dedicating the center was Telesis Corp. president Marilyn Melkonian, an Eisenhower Trustee who came forward with the multimillion-dollar grant to renovate Carver Terrace and provide its after-school services. She believes in Carver Terrace, Patsy Hartsfield, and the importance of partnerships.
“Fannie Mae was very important in providing tax credits when this effort wasn’t the most sound investment,” Melkonian said. “They took a chance.
“Telesis took the risk when we partnered with the residents when this was regarded as a ‘dangerous area.’ But the lead credit should go to the residents, who helped turn this community around,” she said. “Certain things had to happen before they could attract multimillion-dollar partners. They did those things.”
She credited “the dedication of the residents – led by Patsy Hartsfield – to improve conditions in the neighborhood. To decrease violence and increase opportunity,” she said.
“Miss Patsy” Hartsfield was the driving force behind virtually every community project in the area until her death last winter. “It was to her that people went for advice and affirmation,” D.J Ervin said. “She was able to mobilize people.”
“Great strides have been made to change a place once called ‘Little Vietnam’ to a place where children can play and people can walk in safety,” Melkonian said. “The community is a better place. It is also a place where financial partners feel secure enough to invest tens of millions of dollars to create better housing, and the residents will be the owners of that housing,” Melkonian said.
“There is still more to do to achieve a stronger, safer neighborhood – but the people of Carver Terrace, with partners like the Eisenhower Foundation, will make it happen.”
The Eisenhower Foundation has a unique partnership with Telesis, as it does with its other Youth Safe Haven-Police Ministations across the country. As with Eisenhower’s other public-private partnerships, the plan is simple: Telesis provides the financial capital, and Eisenhower contributes the human/social capital with its expertise in youth development, crime reduction, and knowledge of what works for youth, whether its safe havens be in bucolic New Hampshire or the roughest neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.
Partnerships bring the unique strengths of each party to the table, creating much more than each could ever do individually. By being partners with local police forces across the country, paid officers make youth safe havens work – and create safer neighborhoods through effective community policing.
By creating these public-private partnerships, all benefit.
Scientific Studies Show It Works
We’re not making this up, either – the Youth Safe Haven-Police Ministation model has been scientifically proven to work. Studies prove it.
During the first two years of Eisenhower police-youth development programs, serious crime declined by an average of 18 percent in its first four cities from Year 1 to Year 2. When federal funding was cut in Year 3, serious crime declined by an average of only 3 percent.
Successful programs tend to have multiple good outcomes. These positive outcomes include reduced crime, less gang-related behavior, less drug abuse, less welfare dependency, fewer adolescent pregnancies, fewer school dropouts, more youth development, more grades completed, higher graduation rates, successful school-to-work transitions, better parental skills, and more stable families.
Reciprocally, communities benefit. There is less fear. Fewer drug dealers, better schools, and far greater economic development. Not all model programs achieve every one of these positive outcomes – but the point is that multiple outcomes are the rule, not the exception.
Societal Cost: Easy Math
The bottom line, however, is that success costs much less than failure. While incarceration costs about $30,000 a year for each young person, youth safe havens can run on a tiny fraction of that per person.
The failure of America’s social policies, particularly for the poor, cost a fortune. And yet, America’s multibillion-dollar prison-industrial complex produces recidivism rates that are outrageously high – and prison doesn’t produce multiple solutions to multiple problems, which are taken on each school day by qualified mentors and trained civilian staff.
Recidivism is understandable. Returning ex-offenders do not re-enter society armed with an array of “advanced employment skill sets” as they might say at Harvard Business School. Prison may be somewhat similar to a university, but the skills learned are not what you’d call “marketable.”
It’s more than the huge cost of prison custody vs. the small cost of sensible after-school programs such as safe havens or Quantum Opportunities. Responsible citizens contribute to the tax base, rather than drain it. Youth Safe Havens increase the number of employed Americans, vs. those who are jailed. And an employed American contributes thousands of dollars a year to America’s shared wealth.
The Eisenhower Foundation is a D.C. non-profit that promotes solutions to urban problems, joins with other institutions to help repair and heal racial and class divides in America, and provides the employment training and academic education that will help young people succeed.