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Montgomery County is committed to creating a supportive, violence-free community for all children, youth and families where young people are valued, treated with dignity and given opportunities to realize their full potential. The County and its partners are responding to the urgent need to reach out to support youth who are faced with challenges including gang involvement, poverty, and pressure to engage in risky behaviors. The methods used to respond to these challenges include positive youth development and gang intervention and suppression. Multiple agencies throughout the County are working actively together to engage youth and families positively and to prevent and address youth violence and gang activity.


  • Children Prepared to Live and Learn
  • Healthy and Sustainable Communities
  • Safe Streets and Secure Neighborhoods


Contact Robin Riley of the Department of Recreation at 240.777.6800 or Joshua Watters of the Office of Management and Budget at 240.777.2768 for more information regarding this Initiative's operating budget.


The Positive Youth Development Initiative is a comprehensive response to the problems of children and youth exposed to trauma, gangs, and youth violence in the County, and reflects the commitment by the County to an approach that includes prevention, intervention, and suppression components. The Initiative's priorities serve to enhance existing approaches and services, and ensure the County's ability to respond to emerging trends and challenges utilizing culturally-competent and evidence-based approaches.

The leadership of these efforts is provided by the Director of Health and Human Services, the Director of Recreation, the Chief of Police, along with key members of the County Executive's staff, Public Libraries, Correction and Rehabilitation, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the State's Attorney's Office, and community leaders. Work continues in the areas of suppression and enforcement, outreach and education, violence prevention, and deterrence.

The Initiative also includes multiple efforts to strengthen out-of-school time programming throughout the County. The Montgomery County Collaboration Council, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Recreation, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Montgomery College, MCPS, and many other key partners are working together to address quality, to assess needs, to unify funding approaches, and to develop shared program approaches and outcomes. These efforts will result in the increase of programs and support for the youth of the County. In addition, many of the Health and Human Services PYDI programs provide opportunities for children and youth to heal from trauma and utilize trauma-informed, evidence-based curriculums accordingly.

In December 2006, County Executive Isiah Leggett articulated a new vision for focusing on the issues of gang activity and youth violence based on the fact that gang crime and activity are more pronounced in specific locations in the County. This new vision also called for new efforts to encompass a broader cross-discipline approach for positive youth development rather than strictly gang prevention.

Major accomplishments of this Initiative include:

Excel Beyond the Bell (EBB): EBB was launched as a pilot program in FY12 to address gaps in high quality out-of-school opportunities at the middle school level. The program is a collaborative effort created to inspire our youth to realize their full potential by offering safe, quality, and accessible after-school programs that are designed to increase interest in exploration, build positive relationships, increase school connectedness, and promote positive pro-social behaviors. The program now operates in 8 middle schools in targeted communities and enrolls over 2,400 young people each year. Since its inception, this program has served over 10,000 students.

Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary School: The elementary school component of EBB was piloted in FY17 by the Department of Recreation to provide opportunities for academic and recreational enrichment after school for younger youth at the elementary school level. The program was created to foster a sense of community and belonging at an early age, providing participants with a healthy hot meal and high-quality programming. This program was implemented in two elementary schools in February 2017, expanded to two additional schools in January 2018, and will be implemented in two more schools in January 2019, providing outreach to a total of six elementary schools. Since inception, over 720 participants have enrolled in Elementary After School EBB.

TeenWorks: Launched in FY13 as the Summer Teen Employment Program (STEP), this initiative quickly evolved to one of the County's premier year-round youth workforce development programs. TeenWorks is a job readiness and learn-to-work program geared toward vulnerable youth who are not yet equipped to enter the workforce alone. It bridges critical out-of-school time (OOST) opportunities with employment, preventing students from having to make the hard decision between OOST programs that promote positive growth and development and working to alleviate financial stress and strain. Participants leave TeenWorks with financial literacy and employability skills. Since its inception, the program has employed over 300 young people.

Food, Fun, and Fitness: This program, initiated in FY15, is a drop-in summer program for youth that combines access to nutrition with physical activity. It serves young people who would otherwise be home alone during summer months and serves as a critical safety net to address issues such as food insecurity, social isolation, and physical and psychological well-being. The program helps to relieve financial stress and strain providing an immediate economic impact for families. Families taking full advantage of meals served during summer months alone can expect an economic benefit of a six-week summer program serving breakfast and lunch. Food, Fun, and Fitness has served over 2,000 young people and has served over 75,000 meals and snacks to vulnerable youth.

RecZone: Launched as "Sports Academy" in FY08, this program is specifically designed for high school adolescents whose drive for independence and vulnerable self-concept make it essential to engage with them during critical after-school hours (2pm-6pm). RecZone helps to bridge a connection between school and out-of-school supports, opportunities, and services through a variety of structured and self-determined activities. Located in 4 high schools, RecZone averages over 130 students daily per site, and has enrolled over 20,000 high school students since its inception.

Teen Writing Clubs: Since 2010, library branches throughout the County have offered ongoing writing clubs for teens aged 13 to 18. These young writers meet as a group and share their writing with one another to receive constructive feedback in a supportive environment. These clubs are facilitated by members of the Maryland Writers' Association and the participants get the opportunity to meet authors and other writers. In 2014, a member of the Marilyn J. Praisner Teen Writers' Club published a novel, "Remember Me."

Police Cadet Program: In the Fall of 2016, the Montgomery County Police Department reinstituted the Police Cadet Program. This program focuses on young, college-aged adults, who are considering a career in law enforcement and assists those who might not have the financial means to pursue the requisite college course work by providing temporary, part-time employment as participants work within the Police Department and gain firsthand knowledge of County law enforcement functions. This has allowed the Department to reach out to residents who might have been missed through conventional recruiting methods like college fairs.

Youth Opportunity Centers: Established in 2006 with the creation of the Crossroads Youth Opportunity Center in Takoma Park, and expanded in 2008 with the creation of the UpCounty Youth Opportunity Center in Gaithersburg, Youth Opportunity Centers provide culturally-based and evidence-informed trauma and healing services. Specific services provided include, GED preparation, mental health counseling, and workforce readiness programming and referrals to WorkSource Montgomery for youth at-risk of gang involvement or at-risk of dropping out of school. In FY17 these centers served 412 youth, and since the program began, approximately 3,900 youths have been served.

Street Outreach Network: The mission of the Street Outreach Network (SON) is to prevent, neutralize, and manage hostile behavior in the highest-risk youth and communities through the development of positive relationships between youth, community stakeholders, and outreach workers. SON engages with youth through development programs and leisure time activities to redirect antisocial and aggressive behaviors. Since being established in 2007, this program has grown from 1 manager to a team of 11 full-time staff responding to the needs of youth Countywide through planned activities. In FY17, SON served approximately 288 youth, and has served over 4,000 since its inception.

High School Wellness Centers: Beginning in 2007 with the creation of the Northwood High School Wellness Center, this program helps students reach their full potential by offering coordinated medical care, quality counseling, positive youth development, and health education in a confidential and culturally-sensitive manner. In addition to the Northwood Center, the County operates three additional High School Wellness Centers (Watkins Mill, Gaithersburg, and Wheaton). In FY17, 1,711 students were served at the wellness centers, and since 2008 over 9,000 students have been served.

Truancy Prevention Program: The County began funding the Truancy Prevention Program in the State's Attorney's Office in FY13. It is an early intervention program that aims to improve attendance of middle school children in MCPS by discovering the root causes of truancy and assisting students and their families with issues that impact attendance. It is a voluntary program designed to keep children in school and families out of court. This program is now in 20 schools and has served 1,099 students through FY17.

Safe Space Program: The Safe Space Program fills both a geographic need and a gap in services by offering highest-risk youth access to resources and services to prevent them from engaging in violent or criminal behavior. In addition, this program focuses on improving community safety by strengthening community leadership to address violence, helping to strengthen the sustainability of County gang prevention efforts. Starting in April 2018, this program will operate in two communities on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm to Midnight for at least 25 youth, with an additional 25 youth being served in two more communities by June 2018. Services provided will include culturally-based and trauma-informed programs, psychoeducational groups, grief counseling, connections to workforce services as well as reconnecting to schools and vocational programs and leisure activities. Furthermore, key community stakeholders will be trained in culturally-based and evidence-informed practices to provide them with the skill sets necessary to address violence in their neighborhoods.


The FY19 Approved Budget includes approximately $29.2 million in tax-supported resources identified for the Positive Youth Development Initiative (PYDI). In addition, the approved budget includes almost $0.4 million in non-tax supported resources for positive youth development.

Department of Health and Human Services
  • Add funds to support a new family resilience program, the Strong Families Initiative ($175,000).
  • Provide funds to create the Paint Branch and Springbrook Cluster Project in the East County region to help students maintain or achieve better pathways to success ($134,190).
  • Provide funds to establish a Youth Drop-in Center for homeless youth ($246,500).
Department of Police
  • Add funds to support full-year gang suppression effort enhancements ($711,975).
  • Add funds to support the hiring of three new school resource officers ($182,977).
Department of Recreation
  • Add funds to expand the Excel Beyond the Bell (EBB) for Elementary School Program to two additional elementary schools ($397,318).
  • Add funds reflecting the annualization of the FY18 EBB for Elementary School Program expansion ($368,358).
  • Increase funding for the Collaboration Council for EBB due to changing priorities of the Governor's Office for Children ($171,000).
  • Enhance Parent Leadership funding in EBB for Elementary Schools ($40,000).
State's Attorney's Office
  • Add funds to support full-year gang suppression effort enhancements ($312,747).


Services benefiting County youth are incorporated in general department program offerings as well as targeted services. These projects respond to multiple critical needs facing the County at this time and the desired outcomes of addressing trauma, reducing gang violence and crime, and promoting youth success and development. Below are some of the major County Government programs currently supporting County youth:

Department of Health and Human Services
  • The Crossroads Youth Opportunity Center and the UpCounty Youth Opportunity Center provide a wide array of culturally-based, trauma-informed intervention support services for high-risk youth, youth who seek to exit gang life, youth engaged in juvenile delinquency and criminal activity, and violence prevention services.
  • The Identity After-School Program provides after school programming to serve at-risk Latino youth in middle and high schools.
  • The Maryland Multicultural Youth Center provides case management, GED preparation, job readiness development, and after school programs to high-risk youth.
  • High School Based Wellness Centers provide school-based, culturally-based, and trauma- and healing-informed positive youth development services such as after school activities, job readiness, academic support, trauma-informed mental health services, parent support groups, leadership development, truancy reduction, substance abuse prevention, and other health related services. The High School Based Wellness Centers are located at Watkins Mill, Northwood, Gaithersburg, and Wheaton High Schools.
  • The Street Outreach Network (SON) provides culturally-based, trauma- and healing-informed, evidence-based gang and youth violence intervention services, conflict management services, and recreational and leisure activities. In addition, the SON offers wellness and nutrition programs, after school services to elementary, middle, and high school youth groups, job readiness and workforce referrals to WorkSource Montgomery, and community-based projects that engage youth and young adults in life-affirming activities, the Safe Space Program, and support services to youth and young adults returning to the community after incarceration or detention. The SON also provides transformational healing for children and youth impacted by trauma and/or violence in collaboration with Adolescent Behavioral Health Services, the Cluster projects, Collaboration Council, nonprofits and faith-based groups.
  • The Asian American Leadership, Empowerment and Development for Youth and Family Program provides after school enrichment programs and mentoring to students at participating middle and high schools.
  • The Street Outreach Network continues to focus its intervention services throughout the County especially targeting the Montgomery Village, Germantown, Wheaton, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, East County, and Long Branch communities as well as with currently incarcerated youthful offenders in the Clarksburg Jail in partnership with the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation's Youthful Offender Program.
  • Several Street Outreach Staff have been trained and certified in evidence- and culturally-based, trauma-informed curriculums, and nine Street Outreach Staff have been trained and recertified as Professional Community Intervention Specialists.
  • Conservation Corps provides job, education, and life skills training for out-of-school and unemployed County youth ages 17 to 24.

Department of Recreation
  • RecZones provide direct leadership during the critical after-school hours for four high schools, including Kennedy, Montgomery Blair, Springbrook, and Watkins Mill, which serve students throughout the school year. The program offers structured, semi-structured, and self-directed opportunities customized to meet the needs of students entering middle adolescence, where voice, choice, and perceived freedom are critical to retention. Programming ranges from sports, arts, job readiness and college exploration, and community services to leadership development.
  • Excel Beyond the Bell Program (EBB), a partnership among Recreation, the Montgomery County Collaboration Council, and MCPS, is offered at eight middle school locations four days a week from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and was extended to four elementary schools (with an additional two being added in January 2019). EBB offers a structure designed to increase school engagement and foster a sense of community and belonging through concentrated and expanded programming which includes: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), sports, a variety of dance and arts programs, Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a hot meal, and expanded after school transportation.
  • Rec Extra expands the capacity of extra-curricular and after school opportunities for middle school students. Programs are customized to each school and operate from 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at several middle schools. These programs offer sports, STEM, yoga, hip-hop dance, art, certified babysitting training, cooking, and other activities.
  • Teen Events provides after-hour teen programming at several community recreation centers that are spread out among five regions. The program partners with Identity and HHS Street Outreach Network to reach underserved and disconnected youth. Events include: Teen Cafés, as well as special events such as Futsal tournaments, Spring Break Basketball tournaments, Summer Basketball tournaments, leadership development through sports, Teen Talent Show, college tours, and service learning opportunities.
  • TeenWorks is the Department's comprehensive youth workforce development initiative, which offers experiential learning and job readiness training in financial literacy, job etiquette, teamwork, and communication leadership for disadvantaged youth in school ages 15 to 19 years. Through work teams and apprenticeships, TeenWorks provides young people with on-the-job training through a wide range of work experiences including parks & recreation, conservation, environmental science, community non-profit work, and local government. Program partners include the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, MCPS, Montgomery Parks, National Park Service, Health and Human Services, KID Museum, and the Hispanic Business Foundation.
  • Professional development and training initiatives for all our frontline workers and community partners that include: Advancing Youth Development; Youth Program Quality Intervention; Developmental Assets; Youth Program Quality Methods (series); Behavior Management; Youth Mental Health First Aid; Bullying Awareness and Prevention; Professional Competencies of Youth Workers; and Person First/Disability Characteristics.
  • Mobile Recreation is a program designed to improve wellbeing and reduce barriers to health by targeting school communities with high FARMS rates. The program combines structured physical activity and play with the Summer Food Service Program, ensuring that any young person 18 and under has the opportunity to be active and has access to nutrition. Program partners include MCPS and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Department of Police
  • Responding and combating criminal gang activity in Montgomery County through the Criminal Street Gang Unit, which includes the gathering of intelligence, surveillance and investigations, street enforcement, and educating the public and other governmental agencies on gang activity.
  • Provide a School Resource Officer (SRO) for each public high school to assist school staff in maintaining safety of the schools and serving as a liaison between the Montgomery County Police Department and MCPS officials for school and police related concerns and incidents. The SRO serves to deter and prevent acts of school violence and gang activity while also fostering positive relationships between the County's youth and the police. In FY19 the County Council approved three additional SRO positions to expand the program.
  • Provide one Community Services Officer for each of the six police districts to address long-term problem-solving issues, including Neighborhood Watch, Community Outreach, CRIMEREPORTS.com, day to day citizen questions, station web sites, National Night Out events, community presentations, and neighborhood/homeowner association meetings. These officers provide community outreach and community relations.
Department of Correction and Rehabilitation
  • Detention Services oversee the Model Learning Center, an in-house education department that specializes in Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language (ESOL), vocational courses, and Computer Skills & Digital Literacy. General Equivalency Diploma (GED) and MCPS High School Diploma Programs are available to all eligible candidates; both programs culminate in an annual graduation ceremony attended by family members. Detention Services also manages the Gang Management Program which primarily involves youthful offenders, and provides a Dedicated Youthful Offender Housing Unit focusing on life skills, positive youth development, and education.
Office of the State's Attorney
  • Prosecute gang-related crimes through six Assistant State's Attorneys. These attorneys work with one full-time Senior Legal Assistant, and one full-time and two part-time investigators who screen all cases, maintain a database to track trends, and conduct analyses of gang-related cases. The Assistant State's Attorneys work closely with the Police Department and neighboring jurisdictions to reduce gang-related activity.
  • Address the root causes of truancy through a collaborative effort with the State's Attorney's Office, MCPS, parents and other partners called the Truancy Prevention Program. Through positive one-on-one interaction with students, this 10-week early intervention program identifies why children are either not regularly attending school or are not on-time for school. The program not only puts resources in place to support regular and timely attendance, but successfully encourages students to enhance school performance. Truancy Prevention Program has expanded to 20 County middle schools.
  • Participate in Cluster Projects in a multi-agency collaboration to improve school performance.
Department of Public Libraries
  • Offer spaces in many branches where teens can gather, collaborate, use computers, or enjoy library materials specially selected for their interests.
  • Provide two digital media labs at Silver Spring and Long Branch with Teen Tech Time.
  • Provide innovative programs for, with, and by teens, including writing clubs, computer coding, chess clubs, graphic novel drawing, knitting and crocheting, and crafting.
  • Host an annual comic convention, MoComCon, at the Silver Spring Library.
  • The KID Museum at Davis Library, a leveraged partnership which allows a growing non-profit learning organization to refresh former training and book storage space at the Davis Library into a state-of-the-art Makerspace, that provides dedicated maker programming for library customers.
  • Provide volunteer opportunities for youth who are completing school-required Student Service Learning (SSL) hours, as well as job opportunities for teens as Library Pages.
  • Offer a library materials collection that supports school or home schooling needs, personal interests, career/college preparation, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) resources.
  • Provide Ride On Youth Cruiser SmarTrip cards for the Department of Transportation, making acquisition of this free transportation service much easier for County youth to obtain.
  • Offer a series of graphic design and digital media production classes for high school students with the Gandhi Brigade Youth Media.
  • Partner with the NAACP Youth Council on providing community deposit collections in beauty salons and barbershops.
  • Partner with Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, Takoma Park to provide employment to a work study student.
  • Hosted teens participating in WorkSource Montgomery's summer work program at multiple locations.
Department of Technology Services (including Cable Communications Plan)
  • The Office of Cable and Broadband Services provided training, equipment, facilities, support, and youth employment to support youth-created digital media through youth events and public performances, digital media content for cable television and the Internet, creation of safe youth on-line community spaces, and youth-driven current event reporting.
  • Partnering with KID Museum and the District of Learning, the ultraMontgomery Coder Corps trained high school students to coach younger students in STEM coding and game design, and developed "digital badges" to enable students to track learned skills and work experience on Span Learning's digital playlist platform.
Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • Provide safety and health and wellness "Baby Bundles" for at-risk infants.
  • Provide a program in Germantown for Title I youth in grades K-5 with after-school and summer learning programs to increase STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) knowledge and early interest in STEAM-related careers.
  • Provide round-trip bus transportation for Rock Creek Forest Elementary School to program site in Bethesda.
  • Provide a Re-entry Case Manager to work with youth exiting the criminal/juvenile justice system in Conservation Corps and Steps to Success programs to assist them in reintegrating back into society.
  • Provide afterschool program for middle school students at a Montgomery Housing Partnership property in Long Branch.
  • Provide year-round job training, mentoring, and case management to participating high school seniors enrolled at Springbrook High School (in Silver Spring) and Paint Branch High School (in Burtonsville).
Board of Elections
  • Partner with MCPS to hold the Voter Registration Drive conducted each year. The activity encompasses Student Leadership Week, and concludes on the Student Member of the Board of Education Election Day.
  • Future Vote increases current and future voter knowledge, and educates and strengthens ties related to civic participation for Montgomery County's youth and families by actively providing an opportunity for civic duty, community involvement, and emphasis on the importance of preserving participatory democracy.
WorkSource Montgomery
  • Continue the Montgomery Moving Forward Initiative, a partnership of County Government, MCPS, Montgomery College, the non-profit community, and the private sector to assist unemployed and underemployed County residents in gaining employment in the health and wellness industry.
  • Implement the Summer Youth STEM Career Exploration program, R.I.S.E. (Real Interesting Summer Experience), as part of the Positive Youth Development Initiative. It will give rising high school juniors and seniors from MCPS internship opportunities to be exposed to career opportunities that can shape their future, especially in STEM fields.