Feb AAUW Meeting: Community Gang Initiative

Our February speaker was Denene McDonald, leader of the Community Gang Initiative from the United Way.  She presented information on gangs in Rochester:

— Reports from law enforcement indicate gang activity is on the rise

— There is a concern elevated by an increase in discharge of firearms

— A number of Rochester agencies have programs to prevent, intervene, and suppress gang activity.

Police Records indicate the following:

— There are 13-14 active gangs

— There are 300-400 known juvenile members.  These are only the ones with police records so there could be more.

— The age range is from 12 years to 17 years

— The gang membership ranges from 5-10 members to over 100 members.

There is a dramatic increase in gang activity in Rochester in the past 10 years.  Rochester’s gang activity is much less than larger cities.  Rochester’s gangs are not as organized as in bigger cities.  In bigger cities the gangs run a business, such as auto-theft or drug dealing, with different levels of leadership.  Unorganized gangs are more dangerous than organized gangs.

The gang problem requires an ongoing, comprehensive community response to address the many factors that give rise to gangs.

Prevention, intervention, and suppression programs can be effective in reducing youth violence and youth gang activity.  Effects to prevent, intervene and suppress gangs in Rochester are worth the cost.  Most youth in gangs have a very unstable home life.

Community Response

— In 2009, the United Way was appointed the lead agency to deal with the gang problem

— The Rochester Area Foundation provided $20,000 in funding

— UWOC provided additional funding for supportive activities and staff associated with gang activity


The Community Gang Initiative will reduce/eliminate the number of gang-involved youth and adults and gang related crime.


1. Align community resources

2. Enhance a sense of community responsibility and improve capacity and effectiveness of organizations serving gang-involved clients

3. Assist gang members in transitioning out of the gang lifestyle.

2010 Accomplishments

-Mobilized community.  60 volunteers were recruited to serve on solutions teams around prevention, intervention, suppression, leadership

– Established a key group of community leaders to provide oversight.

– Identified organizations currently doing work with gangs.  There are 9 with little or no resources.

– Awarded $26,000 through Community Development Block Grant to establish NW gang prevention and intervention site

Randy Chapman and Mark Ostrem are the co-chairs.  They meet the 1st Tuesday of every other month. 

An AAUW member said the people being served also need a voice at the table.

2011 outcomes

– Community Gang Initiative (CGI) collaborative formed

– Community partners establish cooperative/coordinated efforts to address gang issues

– Parents of high risk and gang involved youth gain capacity for family involvement and interventions.

– Residents gain a sense of community responsibility for youth success

– Establish a referal process

– Get Grant money for NW Gage

The feeling of belonging is very intergenerational! Mentor a youth!

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