Into The Abyss:
A Personal Journey into the World of Street Gangs

by Mike Carlie, Ph.D.        
Michael K. Carlie
Continually updated.

~ Table of Contents ~
Home | Foreword | Preface | Orientation

What I Learned | Conclusions
End Note |
| Appendix
Site Map / Contents
| New Research

Up-To-Date Gang-Related News

Part 6:
The Adopt an Agency Program

There are literally thousands of youth-serving agencies in the United States that are understaffed, overwhelmed by high caseloads, and under-funded. While every effort should be made to find permanent and adequate funding for these agencies, an additional aid would be finding dedicated and skilled volunteers who are willing to help address the agencies' needs.

An Adopt an Agency Program (AAP) would do several things. First, it would locate youth-serving agencies in the community that are interested in accepting volunteer workers. It then solicits from those agencies a list of the kinds of work volunteers would do and the qualifications volunteers should possess. The AAP then recruits for volunteers who match the youth-serving agencies criteria and either sends them directly to the agencies for an interview or conducts initial screening interviews on their behalf.

The Adopt an Agency Program may be managed by a local faith institution or a consortium of them, a university or college, business or business organization, community service club or organization, or by a group of unaffiliated but dedicated individuals. If resources permit, online recruiting and an online application process may be developed.

Among the volunteer efforts which could be provided are help with tutoring or mentoring agency clientele, providing assistance in the maintenance of the agency's facilities and grounds, help with fund raising projects (i.e., a car wash, 5k run, raffles), providing space needed for special agency programs (athletic events and other large gatherings), and distributing flyers and brochures.

I participate as volunteer in two different agencies (a task force on gangs and youth violence and for a council which supports various activities for delinquent boys in three state-run group homes). The work is very rewarding and clearly benefits the community via the children it supports.

In Closing

We have reviewed several different ways in which a neighborhood or community could organize to reduce gang activity and youth violence. The Adopt an Agency program, community coalitions, community forums, community-based task force groups, and community-based youth agencies are effective ways of reducing gang activity and youth violence. These efforts, however, will not succeed in a vacuum, as I hope has become clear. As Spergel and Kane (1990) have stated:

No agency or organization alone can deal appropriately with the problem of youth gang crime. Only a comprehensive community-based approach involving other community-based, criminal justice, and grassroots organizations interested in both preventing and controlling youth gang crime, including gang-related violence, holds promise of effectiveness. (Spergel and Kane, 1990, page

The next chapter addresses how a community's social institutions - both private sector and pubic sector - could become involved in reducing gang activity and youth violence.


2002 Michael K. Carlie
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the author and copyright holder - Michael K. Carlie.