Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Does Community Mean to You?

Dear Supporter,

On a Friday night last month, twelve Save Our Streets (S.O.S.) program participants gathered to explore this question and consider what makes a community stronger or weaker. These young men and women, many of whom had been directly involved in violence, discussed what actions had positive or negative impacts in their own community and brainstormed new ways to spread positive messages here in Brooklyn. When asked what he learned during the event, one participant said:

I always had a negative outlook on everything. So when people, including S.O.S., would approach me to deliver a positive message, I would shun them. Until I was shot and S.O.S. came to see about me in the hospital. I learned to pay attention to the message.

We ask for your support as we continue to spread messages of peace and work to build safer and healthier communities for everyone. You read our blog to stay in the know about our work and hopefully play a part in it too. This is your chance to play that part. Please take a moment to make an end-of-year gift to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center today or donate an item from our Amazon Wishlist.

December 2nd marks the third annual #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to celebrating the causes we care about most. At the Mediation Center, we are proud of the ways in which we've contributed to the cause of anti-violence so far. 
When our street team started working in 2010, there were 24 shootings in the S.O.S. Crown Heights target area. This year, it is down to 9. The Center for Court Innovation's research, completed in 2012, demonstrated that without our program, shootings likely would have increased as they did in similar neighborhoods without the program. 

Additionally, in the past year:

  • Save Our Streets (S.O.S.) expanded and now has a new target area in Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • Make It Happen (MIH), a program for male victims of community violence, began to offer both school and community-based programming and developed a Peer Mentoring Network to keep program graduates involved
  • Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) graduated 13 participants last spring and recruited 24 young people this fall who are currently participating in the 8-month skill building and peer education program to decrease violence
  • The Save Our Streets Clergy Action Network (S.O.S. CAN) held the first "Increase the Peace: Youth Symposium" providing workshops, food and entertainment to more than 100 youth and adults
  • Neighbor Services provided walk-in services to nearly 450 community members, offering assistance with employment, benefits, tutoring, and health care enrollment, and with legal services through a partnership with the New York Legal Aid (NYLAG) Mobile Legal Help Center
  • The Mediation Center hosted a packed Arts to End Violence festival including a Talent Show, Block Party, and Art Gallery

We are incredibly grateful for the decrease in gun violence in 2014 and for this expansion in services. We also realize that there is still much more work to do. We envision neighborhoods not only free of shootings, but enriched with resources, community pride, and ample opportunities for individuals to reach their full potential. 

In Peace,
Amy Ellenbogen and the rest of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center Staff

P.S. To give online, be sure to select the "Crown Heights Community Mediation Center" from the drop down menu. All donors will be automatically entered into a raffle to win a gift card from a local business! If you prefer to give by mail, checks can be made out to our parent organization, the Fund for the City of New York, sent to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center at 256 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11213.

P.P.S. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates on #GivingTuesday throughout the day, including photos from our #UNselfie #UNdoviolence project!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mediation Center Kicks Off #GivingTuesday Campaign!

The Mediation Center was featured in an article on DNAinfo today! Read about our campaign to support Giving Tuesday: this year, we're having people take selfies using the hashtags #UNselfie and #UNdoviolence explaining why they stand against violence.

If you'd like to support us by donating to our organization, there are three easy way to do it:

1) Donate ONLINE by going here: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1395090?uniqueID=634587548277889205+ and selecting "Crown Heights Community Mediation Center" from the dropdown menu. Donors will be automatically entered to win gift cards to different stores in Crown Heights!

2) Donate GOODS through our Amazon Wishlist: http://amzn.com/w/3VP0A1H0JG09Z. These will support our community holiday party and much needed staff supplies!

3) Donate TIME by messaging us or emailing hersheyk@crownheights.org to learn about volunteer opportunities at our Crown Heights or Bed-Stuy offices.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Employment Success in Crown Heights!

Jacqueline, one of our clients, stopped by this morning to tell us she got the nursing job she applied for with help from our office! She said that the Mediation Center was her "lucky charm" for getting jobs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

S.O.S. Shooting Response, Nov. 20, 7 pm

How Will You Honor 100 Years of the Eastern Parkway Library?

Did you know the Eastern Parkway Library has been open for 100 years?

Did you know it's FREE to get a library card, which allows you access to books, computers, the internet and printers?

Did you know the library is a learning center and offers tutoring and adult classes?

The Mediation Center has been involved with a series of planning meetings with the library and community members on how to make the library more useful to Crown Heights residents. Stop by the library and check out all of its amazing resources or let us know how you think it could be better!

Click this link to learn more about the library: http://www.bklynlibrary.org/locations/eastern-parkway

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mediation Center Staff Presents to City Year Corps Members

Tuesday afternoon, Mediation Center staff Marlies Talay, Jazzi Zzaman, and Kevin Hershey led a workshop for City Year Corps Members on gun violence and conflict mediation. The discussion gave young educators the opportunity to think deeply about systems of violence perpetuated in NYC neighborhoods and schools and to learn about Mediation Center programs.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Group of Volunteer Tutors Trained!

Wednesday night, a group of 5 Crown Heights residents gathered at the Mediation Center for training to be tutors for neighborhood youth! Academic support for youth is vital to our work in making Crown Heights safer and healthier for all people. As professional tutor and Mediation Center volunteer Mandy Ripley said, "Tutoring is a resource that the kids who most need it don't have." The group engaged in a rich discussion about the larger structures in our society that can marginalize young people and decrease the resources they have for support.

Our goal is to provide a safe space for learning for all young people who need it. Want to help? If you want to become a tutor or if you or someone you know needs academic support come visit us, call us at 718-773-6886, or email Marlies or Kevin at talaym@crownheights.org or hersheyk@crownheights.org   

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tuesday evening 10/28,  37 faith leaders along with some of their congregants and two politicians gathered at the Ebeneezer Church at 1024 Bergen Street where pastors Rev Edward Jenkins and Rev Kevin Jones called the faith community to end gun violence.

Rev Jones told the group that it's not enough to just pray, but to open themselves up to get involved in the fight. We all have a role in ending violence, unemployment, homelessness, and institutional racism.

 The group agreed to collectively raise their voices in prayer once a month. The next Night of Prayer Against Violence will be:

Tues, Nov 25 at Trinity Baptist Church with Rev. Glenmore Bembry. The address is 179 New York between Park and Prospect Place.

Questions? Contact Rev. Kevin Jones at 

S.O.S. Program Manager Allen James is Keynote Speaker!

S.O.S. Program Manager, Allen James, was invited by the Director of The Jewish Board of Children and Family Services' Kinship Care Program to be the keynote speaker at a convening of grandparents who are raising grandchildren. On Friday, October 24th Allen addressed an assembly of 100 grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Before speaking, Allen shared breakfast and stories with some of these folks who are parenting for the second time around.  

Some of the comments from the audience were:
·       Best part of today!
·       It was good to know his life was not a bed of roses. His life was like mine. The cream rises to the top.
·       His comments about how the community and families need to guide children really hit home.
·       He shared a lot of vital information about violence.
·       I have learned there is a lot of help out there for my child.
·       Excellent speaker who told us his story and how productive one can be regardless of their circumstances.
·       He was very informative, educational and to the point.
·       He brought out a lot of good points about teens today.

The Kinship Care Program provides them with training and other supports.
Learn more about the Kinship Care Program at:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Get involved with CB 8! Here is a way that you can influence the changes in our neighborhood.

Get involved!  Here is a way that you can influence the changes in our neighborhood. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Make It Happen! is still recruiting!

Make It Happen! is an OVC (Office of Victims of Crime) funded program run in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation's Domestic Violence department. The program is geared toward young men of color, ages 16-24, and aims to give participants the tools necessary to overcome traumatic experiences, and to be able to succeed in spite of those experiences through one-on-one and group sessions. 

We are now recruiting participants for our next cycle. For more information, email or call Kenton Kirby at kkirby@crownheights.org or at (718) 773-6886.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Me and My Park Day

Join the Mediation Center at a day full of music, fun, games, and resources, at Hamilton Metz Park!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Farmers Market In Brower Park All Summer!

Every Wednesday and Saturday, from June 25th through November 15th, Friends of Brower Park and Community Food Projects LLC will host a farmers market, with fresh produce and other foods, in Brower Park at the corner of Prospect Place and Brooklyn Avenue.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Alternatives to the Summer Youth Employment Program, 2014

Looking for opportunities for youth this summer? Check out this guide, with volunteer, work, and internship opportunities for this summer.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

20th Annual Family Day Picnic

The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center will be present at the 71 Precinct and the 71 Community Council's Family Day Picnic to celebrate unity and diversity in Hamilton-Metz Park. Join us on Sunday, June 8th for the festivities!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Arts to End Violence Gallery Opening

On Thursday, May 22nd, the Ron Taylor gallery on St. Johns Place opened its doors for an evening to celebrate community, creativity, and the message of anti-violence. Over 50 works of art by youth and professional artists were submitted to the annual Arts to End Violence contest and displayed at the gallery.

In addition to the gallery, Greater Restoration Baptist Church, next door, was open, and Pastor Kenneth Bogan of the church performed songs outside with his jazz band. 


Program Coordinator for YO S.O.S. Ruby-Beth Buitekant spoke about the work of S.O.S. and the importance of having the community at an event like this. A young performer from the organization Girl Be Heard performed a song that she wrote about how gun violence has affected her life.


The gallery remains open for the community to view on May 28th - May 30th, from 2 pm to 6 pm, and from June 2nd - June 4th, from 2 pm to 6 pm.

Kingston Avenue Festival 2014

This year's Kingston Avenue Festival, on Saturday, May 17th, brought over 500 people from the community of all ages together for a sunny day on two blocks of Kingston Avenue. The streets between Bergen Street and Pacific Street were lined with over 35 tables of activities, workshops, and community resources.

Young people and audience members had a great time with a donut eating contest.

Performers spread the S.O.S. anti-violence message, and emcee, Senior Outreach Worker Derick Scott, led the audience in chants of "Guns down, peace up!" and "Stop shooting, start living!"

Children made shirts,


 learned to play guitar and drums,

played, soccer, volleyball, and basketball,

and so much more.

Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets ran a facepainting booth and a quiz about their work where people could win T-shirts. Throughout the afternoon, festival-goers decorated a communal anti-violence mural. Local DJs Ahmad Julian, Dj Ushka, Dj Beto, and Dj Ripley from iBomba and the Dutty Artz collective provided music to the block. 

This wonderful event would not have been possible without the cooperation of so many organizations, merchants, and volunteers. We owe many thanks to our partners in this event, and want to express our sincere gratitude to the over 70 volunteers who helped set up and clean up the event, take photos, hand out food, make arts and crafts, and everyone who contributed such a positive atmosphere.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Arts to End Violence May Events!

Join us for the Kingston Avenue Festival on May 17th, and our gallery showcase on May 22nd!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


We have great news to share: The Indiegogo Campaign for "Arts to End Violence - Support Youth in Ending Gun Violence" closed last Saturday with a total of $11,300 raised!

We are excited about these funds and the great programs they will support, but equally excited to know that 160 backers all believe in youth power and in the ability of transformative arts to end violence.

Last week Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets presented on the in-school organizing they've been doing to raise awareness of gun violence among their peers and teachers. This included student surveys, teacher interviews, poster campaigns, presentations to their classmates, and more. Here are a few photos from their presentation: 

Additionally, we are in touch with more than 30 organizations who will be tabling and leading activities at the Kingston Ave Festival on May 17th and are continuing to receive art submissions for the Arts to End Violence gallery show on May 22nd. We hope to see many of you at these exciting events!

Save Our Streets and Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets take a public health approach to ending gun violence. Together we can work towards a cure. We believe that EVERYONE has a role to play in ending gun violence. Thank you once again for joining the movement to build safer and healthier communities in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and beyond!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Our Arts to End Violence Deadline is Extended!

If you haven't yet submitted your art for this year's Arts to End Violence contest, there is still time! Our deadline is extended to April 15th, and is flexible. Contact us if you have questions! To submit your art, email Marlies at talaym@crownheights.org