Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Youth of the Year Award
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Thank you, Ron [Gidwitz].
I'm just thrilled to be here this morning because of my relationship with Boys and Girls Clubs over so very many years. I've visited more clubs than I can count at this point, and I've seen just how important they are to the communities they serve. I bring greetings from Attorney General Eric Holder who joins me in saying the Department of Justice is so proud that it can help support this great organization and help honor this year's outstanding Youth of the Year finalists.
And it's great to see so many old friends here today. I want to single out one - Robbie Callaway. Robbie and I go so far back together even before he went to Boys and Girls Clubs. He's been a wise mentor and an inspiration to so many of us in this field. It's good to see you, Robbie - and thank you for all that you've done for America's youth.
Robbie's example - and the example that so many of you have set as leaders, staff, and volunteers - are so critical these days. We heard from the FBI on Monday that violent crime is down for the third year in a row. But there are still far too many areas in this nation where violence - including juvenile violence - is prevalent.
There are still too many places where young people choose gangs and delinquency over responsible behavior. There are almost 28,000 gangs in our country right now, with more than three-quarters-of-a-million members. We can't accept this.
But as we all know, it's not a problem we can just arrest our way out of. We need to give kids at risk help through programs like mentoring.
That's why I'm pleased to announce today that the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs is awarding $40 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
These funds will help strengthen and expand mentoring programs, establish new clubs in distressed areas, and support programs in public housing and Indian country. In other words, they will help Boys and Girls clubs do what they do so well - give young people an opportunity to be part of activities that enrich their lives.
I'm also pleased to announce awards to the National 4-H Council, the National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to support national mentoring programs. These awards are all part of more than $100 million the Office of Justice Programs is making available this year to support mentoring initiatives across the country.
They also represent a continued commitment on the part of this Justice Department to the vital work that Boys and Girls clubs and other groups are doing for our youth and our communities. I consider this a sound investment that we know will yield high returns.
So I look forward to continuing this partnership, and I congratulate all the Youth of the Year finalists for their extraordinary accomplishments. Thank you.
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