Community groups bring questions to city about Advance Peace Program

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The City of Rochester is planning to pay people to turn their lives around. It will soon be looking for young men who it believes are responsible for a bulk of gun violence in the City to join a program that will eventually lead to monthly payments if they choose to commit and fully participate.

While the City of Rochester is still working out a lot of the actual details as to how the fellowship will work, the program will be modeled after Advance Peace. On Monday, a team from Advance Peace was in town to field questions during a community forum.

The panel included two men who both spent 10-years behind bars and are now Advance Peace mentors in their respective cities in California—helping to build relationships with current shooters in an effort to get them to put their guns down.

The program encourages cities to hire mentors as city employees who are then tasked with working their contacts on the streets to recruit and build trust with potential fellows. The fellows are typically men between the ages of 16-26 who’ve already been involved in shootings.

After 6 months, the fellows set goals they’d like to reach in the next 18-24 months and that’s when payments of around $1,000 per month begin.

Back in July, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke sat down with Devone Boggan, the CEO of Advance Peace to discuss the program at length.

Most of the participants at Monday’s forum were leaders or members of other community groups within the City of Rochester. Most thought a program like Advance Peace could be successful but it’ll all depend on how it’s shaped, “it seems like a pretty good idea but I feel like presenting it to the community members they might see a bunch of blind spots and gray areas and dry spots,” says James Kegler, who works for Teen Empowerment Rochester.

There was some pushback from a few neighborhood groups who are already working to reduce gun violence about what the ultimate cost of the program will be between hiring the full mentors and paying the fellows, “it’s a full-time job so, a lot of that funding ideally could be going to organizations that kind of align with this type of approach and model already but again you got to play your lane,” Kegler said.

The City of Rochester has committed to about $200,000 in funding so far for the rights to use the Advance Peace program and for technical and development assistance. The program itself wouldn’t start until at least March of 2022.