Mayor Martin J. Walsh has appointed Talia Rivera director of the city’s violence prevention and intervention program, formerly known as the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) Streetworker Program. Rivera will head SOAR Boston (which stands for Street Outreach, Advocacy and Response) which brings an evidence-based approach to reduce recidivism, intervene in violent activity, and create pathways for active gang-involved youth and young adults in the city. Rivera is the first woman to lead and oversee the program since it was created in the early 1990s.
Under Rivera’s direction, SOAR Boston will work to reduce recidivism and intervene in violent activity by working towards decreasing gang-related violence in the city by building consistent meaningful relationships with high-risk and proven-risk youth and young adults; changing the life trajectories of gang-involved youth and young adults by facilitating access to employment, education, and opportunities to enhance their life skills, and responding to and providing resources for all gun-related violence as a means to intervene in retaliation and serve as part of a robust network of resources.
Rivera will use best practices from violence prevention and intervention efforts, as well as Boston-based data to meet the goals above and have a measurable impact on youth crime and violence in the City. SOAR Boston will work across City departments and incorporate all relevant services across the full continuum, allowing the City to identify gaps in services and better coordinate existing efforts, as well as put formal partnerships in place with external partners to provide key services and resources.
“Having over 20 years of experience working with children, youth and families, including my time as a Streetworker, I know how challenging it can be for our communities to gain solid footing and climb the ladder to success,” Rivera said. “I am thankful to Mayor Walsh for giving me this opportunity and for allocating critical resources that will bring about meaningful change in our neighborhoods throughout Boston.”
Most recently Rivera served as executive director of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, an ecumenical group of Christian clergy and lay leaders working to mobilize the community around issues affecting black and Latino youth.