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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
December 10, 2013

DA VANCE RECEIVES UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL’S AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PARTNERSHIPS FOR PUBLIC SAFETY

Saturday Night Lights Program Recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Combatting Youth Violence in New York City

Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration - New York Division Presents Award to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today received the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The award—given for outstanding achievement in the development and support of partnerships designed to address public safety within a community—honors the DA’s Office’s Saturday Night Lights (SNL) youth initiative and work in combating youth violence. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “the partnership of this program with local law enforcement and social services agencies helps reduce youth violence and increase high school graduation rates.” From the Manhattan DA’s Office,  Chauncey Parker, Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Strategies, Estelle Strykers-Santiago, Director of the Reentry and Juvenile Justice Unit, and Joselinne Minaya, Supervisor of the Reentry and Juvenile Justice Unit spearheaded the effort to create and grow the program.

“Since taking office four years ago, I have made it a top priority to keep our young people safe – away from guns, drugs, and violence,” said District Attorney Vance. “Saturday Night Lights not only gives thousands of kids the chance to train with top coaches in a safe environment, it also allows them to interact in a positive setting with law enforcement and lets them know that we are here to protect them. This program is a great example of what a strong partnership between law enforcement and communities can do for our young people. On behalf of all of the Saturday Night Lights recipients, I would like to thank Attorney General Holder for this high honor.”

The Saturday Night Lights program offers young people an opportunity to train with professional basketball, volleyball, and baseball coaches at six locations throughout Manhattan on Friday and Saturday nights. DA Vance established SNL in the fall of 2011 in response to the prosecution of several gangs that recruited teenagers and young girls to carry guns and drugs for gang members. The program aims to keep young people safe by giving them a safe, fun place to go on weekend nights when they are at most risk from being victimized or getting into trouble themselves.

Saturday Night Lights Partners Display Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety

Currently in its third year, SNL has served nearly 3,000 young people ages 11 to 18. The year-round program is free of charge for all participants and funded in part by money forfeited in drug prosecutions to hire world-class professional sports trainers from Pro Hoops, Inc., AllStarr Volleyball, and Harlem RBI. The program is a collaboration between the DA’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, the Police Athletic League, and numerous other community organizations.

Through the complementary Advocate to Graduate program, the SNL initiative ensures that all student athletes are also provided with the academic support and advocacy in order to succeed in middle and high school.

To learn how to register children and teens for free, high-quality athletic programming, please visit the program’s Facebook page or its homepage on the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s website. Additional information about the annual Attorney General’s Awards Program can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice website.

In addition to District Attorney Vance, the following individuals were recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice for their collaborative effort in reducing youth violence: from the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Chauncey Parker, Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Strategies, Estelle Strykers-Santiago, Director of the Reentry and Juvenile Justice Unit, Joselinne Minaya, Supervisor of the Reentry and Juvenile Justice Unit, and Mariely Moronta, Supervisor of Saturday Night Lights Academic Programs; from the New York Field Division of the DEA, Associate Special Agent in Charge Wilbert L. Plummer and Special Agent Michael Abraham, Jr.; from the NYPD, Chief of the Department Philip Banks and Assistant Commissioner for Juvenile Justice Kevin O’Connor; from the New York City Housing Authority, Commissioner John Rhea; Ross Burns, Director of Pro Hoops Inc.; Collin Henry, Director of AllStarr Volleyball; Alana Sweeny, Executive Director of the Police Athletic League; Greg Rideout, Deputy Program Officer for Youth Services and Workforce Development at the Henry Street Settlement; Lew Zuchman, Executive Director of the Supportive Children Advocacy Network; and Tonyna McGhee, Assistant Vice President and Director of Children’s Village.

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