Assemblyman Ramos Secures Funding for S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth Gang Violence Prevention Initiatives

Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) presented a check for $300,000 from this year’s state budget to S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth to help fund gang prevention programs on Thursday, May 11.

“Gangs are overtaking our neighborhoods, threatening our families and robbing our kids of their childhoods and futures,” said Ramos. “While it’s important to increase penalties and strengthen law enforcement, we also need to invest in prevention programs that reduce gang violence and give kids better options. I’ll keep fighting to keep violent gangs like MS-13 off our streets and away from our young people.”

S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth was founded in June 2000 following the death of Eric Rivera, a Uniondale resident who was allegedly killed by gang members. The founders of the organization, one of whom had left gang life just three years prior, organize community service projects like park cleanups and graffiti removal and urge legislators to support programs that empower youth. The organization seeks to promote positive values and give youth the tools and resources to resist gang involvement. Through workshops and presentations, it has reached over 78,000 people and has worked with over 800 youth on Long Island.1 It also acts as a liaison between youth and other agencies like law enforcement, clergy and schools.

“It is easy to blame gang involved youth for the violence plaguing so many communities on Long Island and across the country” said Rahsmia Zatar of S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth. “It is much more difficult to discern ways in which poverty, the lack of opportunity, and sense of hopelessness fuel the continued loss of life. Today, we are pleased to stand alongside Assemblyman Phil Ramos in offering tools that have proven effective in deterring gang involvement and decreasing violence: hope, resources, and opportunities for all Brentwood youth.”

S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth has proven to be a valuable asset to the community, noted Ramos. The funds will help it grow and sustain its important work to help prevent kids from joining gangs and build stronger, safer communities.