The total of 318 killings by year's end made 2016 the second-deadliest year per capita on record, second only to 2015, when violence spiked after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. (Baltimore Sun, 2017) In Freddie Gray's neighborhood, 51.8 percent of the residents were unemployed between 2008 and 2012, and the median income was $24,006 per year. (attn.com Gray, 2015).
Baltimore has struggled with rising poverty rates since the early nineties. As the population of East and West Baltimore rapidly changes, the crime rate has steadily increased due to a lack of equal access to employment and economic opportunities. Consequently, youth within the community have found refuge and a means of survival in the only way they know how by joining gangs. Gang affiliation is sought as a means of protection and communal support. Unfortunately, communities in East and West Baltimore are riddled with gang violence and other violent crimes while the northern area of Baltimore are flourishing.
Howard University Alternative Spring Break Baltimore aims to reduce youth violence in the communities of West and East Baltimore through our collaborative efforts with organizations such as PACT, Living Classrooms, and the mentoring of local high school students. Workshops will be held with neighborhood youth on conflict resolution, violence prevention, and college readiness. The focus of HUASB Baltimore will is to combat the effects of gang violence within Baltimore communities by promoting education, college readiness, and community development.