(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Chris Geldart, and Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) interim Director Delano Hunter joined participants and families for the graduation of the ninth cohort of Pathways Program ambassadors. Since 2018, the Pathways Program has been helping District residents vulnerable to gun violence transform their lives. Individuals referred to the program have been identified as being at risk of participating in or becoming victim of a violent crime and have had either legal system involvement, been formerly incarcerated, or have survived a violent injury. All individuals have urgent health, healing, safety, and economic needs.
“My commitment to DC residents is this: if you want to get on a better, safer path forward, we will help you find one. The Pathways Program is one of the most effective tools we have for helping people transform their lives,” said Mayor Bowser. “And when a program works this well, we expand it – which is what we did with Pathways. I’m incredibly proud of all of our graduates and grateful for the teams that make this program a success.”
The Pathways program helps ambassadors address their complex trauma stemming from community violence, incarceration, and instability through life skills training, behavioral interventions, culturally competent therapeutic services, paid transitional employment, and family and community support. The program accomplishes this through partnerships with federal and District government partners and community-based organizations.
“I’m tremendously excited about the growth of the Pathways Program” said Director Delano Hunter. “I want Cohort 9 Pathways Program Ambassadors to know that I’m proud of them, their families are proud of them, and their city is proud of them for taking this first step. The power of this first step should not be underestimated.”
Since the start of the Pathways Program, ONSE has served a total of 219 Pathways Program ambassadors with a 70% promotion rate and a 65% subsidized employment rate. In FY22, Mayor Bowser invested an additional $4.5 million in the Pathways Program, bringing the program’s total budget to nearly $8 million, including $200K for incentives for both current and pre-enrolled Pathways Program ambassadors. Mayor Bowser’s proposed budget for FY23 includes an increase of roughly $1.1 million to total $9.1 million. The additional $1.1 million will support an increase in ambassador training wages.
Mayor Bowser opened the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement in 2017 to focus on community-oriented, public health approaches to violence prevention.
Residents who participate in the Pathways Program are referred by the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and community-based organizations.