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VIP Youth Organizing Institute

Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people ages 10 – 24 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To work toward shifting this statistic, the Violence Intervention & Prevention (VIP) Initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission, created the Youth Organizing Institute. The VIP Youth Organizing Institute is a peer leadership program that explores the roots of violence and ways to address them in three neighborhoods of Boston most impacted by violence (Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury). The VIP Youth Organizing Institute provides an opportunity to include youth voice in the city's violence prevention initiatives through advocacy and workshop facilitation.

VIP Youth Institute Organizing Goals:

  • Youth will understand the root causes of violence in their community.
  • Youth will understand the connection of racism and other inequities and negative community outcomes.
  • Youth will explore different ways of coping and healing from traumatic events in their community.
  • Youth will understand the public health/VIP approach to violence prevention.
  • Youth will develop and present a violence prevention plan to the VIP Initiative.
  • Youth will strengthen their leadership skills.
  • Youth will strengthen facilitation skills and present violence prevention workshops to schools, youth programs and other interested parties.

Summer VIP Youth Organizing Institute:

The VIP Youth Institute hires youth organizers who live in the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury for a six-week intensive summer program. During the six weeks, youth will build relationships with one-another, learn about the root causes of violence, understand the public health approach to violence prevention, identify different types of power, learn how 'isms' work and identify their role in preventing community violence. In addition to the violence prevention workshops, the youth organizers will visit each of the eight VIP coalition sites to learn from a panel of community partners on what is currently being done to prevent violence in the communities.

Near the end of summer, the youth organizers will develop and present their own violence prevention strategies to the Boston Public Health Commission and VIP partner agencies.

VIP Academic Youth Institute:

In 2017, VIP launched the academic year Youth Organizing Institute. During the school year, VIP youth organizers develop a series of peer-facilitated violence prevention workshops and present them to schools, youth groups, afterschool programs and any other interested groups or organizations. They also look for opportunities to collaborate with other youth leaders in Boston on common areas of interest and participate in peer to peer learning experiences.

Meet some of our VIP Youth Organizers

My name is Niasia, I have been with the
Violence Intervention and Prevention
Initiative for about a year now and I hope
to continue. My time with VIP has been
an amazing experience. I have learned
vital life skills such as professionalism,
public speaking, and curiosity. I learned
to have the confidence to speak my mind
and share my opinions while doing it in a
respectful way. I have learned to
continuously ask questions to learn
more. These are very important skills to
have while working in a professional
space. I am very grateful to have been
able to be a part of this program and
learn so much.

My name is Omar. I have been with
VIP Youth Organizing Institute for two
cycles. I started in the summer of 2018
and stayed for the academic year of
2019. One thing participating in the VIP
Youth Orgnaizing Institute has taught me
is how to be an advocate for my
community, and how to stand up for
myself as a black young man.

​My name is Idiris and I am graduating from Boston Latin Academy in 2021. During my time at V.I.P I have learned countless things that will be beneficial to me for the rest of my life. For instance, my group and I facilitated a workshop focused on protective and risk factors to further the understanding on certain factors related to peer pressure among Boston youth. Also, through this experience working with V.I.P both during the summer and the academic year, I have strengthened my understanding of my violence prevention initiative for at risk communities. This job not only assists in academic and personal help, but also in becoming an active citizen and promoting advocacy for those who are struggling in this world. Essentially, my experience at V.I.P has been a wonderful experience where I matured as a person and also as an intellectual in my community.

How to apply to be a Peer Organizer:

The VIP Youth Organizing Institute has two sessions. One that takes place during the academic school year and the other runs during the summer. Both sessions require completion of an application through the Department of Youth Engagement and Employment (YEE) Successlink.

Once the application is completed, an in-person interview will take place. The interview will be conducted by current youth organizers and a decision of placement will be made within a week. Each cycle requires a new application be completed.

Upcoming Workshops and Events featuring VIP Youth Organizers:

  • Peer Leadership Institute

  • Jackson Mann Community Center

  • Roxbury Youth Programs

  • Youth Rally for Community Violence Prevention

Past Presentation Locations:

  • Boston Area Health Education Center

  • Our Mattapan Youth Council

  • Peer Leadership Institute

  • Project R.I.G.H.T. Inc.

  • Roxbury Youth Programs

  • Youth in Public Health Summit at Harvard School of Public Health

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: