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Best Practices: Alive & Free

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Alive & FreeThe Omega Boys Club, founded in 1987 by Dr. Joesph E. Marshall, Jr. (this month’s extraORDINARY Person), focuses on youth development and violence prevention. Omega’s mission to “keep youth alive [unharmed by violence] and free [from incarceration]” initiated the Alive & Free Initiative, now recognized by the Annie E Casey Foundation as one of the nation’s 15 most promising models. In fact, the City of San Francisco has adopted Alive & Free as its uniform violence prevention prescription.

Alive & Free was a direct response to the increasing numbers of dropouts, incarceration, and violent deaths of inner-city youth. The movement focuses on the recruitment, education, and development of people committed to eliminating violence in their lives and communities. Because the roots of violence can be traced to the proliferation of misinformation, poor role models, and risky lifestyles to which undereducated youth are especially susceptible, the 'Alive & Free prescription' changes beliefs, attitudes, values, and actions to promote peace and build unity.

Designed for anyone with the desire to improve youth life in their community, Alive & Free is used in detention and treatment facilities, schools and after-school programs, and by community organizations. Nearly all participants— mostly youth involved in the drug trade, gangs, or other violent lifestyles —have remained alive and free, documented by 18 years of anecdotal evidence and program evaluation. The Annie E Casey Foundation has identified Alive & Free as one of the 15 most-promising models across the nation and the City of San Francisco has adopted it as its uniform violence-prevention philosophy.

To read more about Alive & Free, visit the Street Soldiers web site.