"Boston Cops and Black Churches": Published in 1999, this article from Harvard's Kennedy School is an account of the "Boston Miracle" that ended the surge in youth violence in Boston in the mid-1990s. 

"In recent years, homicide rates in a number of large American cities have plummeted. Between 1990 and 1996, New York's rate dropped 58.7 percent, Houston's 54 percent, Los Angeles' 27.9 percent, Philadelphia's 17.7 percent, and Washington, D.C.'s 15.9 percent. In most, if not all of these cities, the precipitous decline in homicide rates derives from even sharper declines in youth violence. However, not all cities have been so fortunate. For example, in Baltimore, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, homicide rates have risen by 7.5 percent, 45.3 percent, and 103.8 percent respectively. A key question then is: Why has youth violence fallen so significantly in some cities but not in others?

 Certainly, part of the decline in youth violence can be attributed to the robust economy, as well as to the nationwide decline in the number of youths aged 15 to 24, the most crime-prone age group. But these factors are present in almost all cities, and thus cannot explain the differences across the nation. Besides, similar declines in homicide rates did not occur in the mid and late 1980s when the economy was also strong. And the 7.7 percent drop in the number of youths aged 15 to 24, from 1986 to 1996, is too small to account for much of the improvement...." (Read the full article)

(Winship, Christopher and Jenny Berrien. "Boston Cops and Black Churches." Public Interest 136 (1999): 52-68.  Retrieved from Winship's official website at


"Losing Faith?": A 2008 update on the collaboration between black churches and Boston Police, discussing why levels of youth violence have increased again and what is being to done to bring them back down.

"Boston received national acclaim for its innovative approach to preventing youth violence in the 1990s.1 The well-known “Operation Ceasefire” initiative was an interagency violence prevention intervention that focused enforcement and social service resources on a small number of gang-involved offenders at the heart of the city’s youth violence problem. The Ceasefire strategy was associated with a near two-thirds drop in youth homicide in the late 1990s. While the sudden decrease in youth homicide was surprising and certainly newsworthy, the Boston approach was also noted for its extraordinary police-community relationship spearheaded by the Ten Point Coalition of activist black clergy. The involvement of black ministers in the Ceasefire strategy provided a mechanism of transparency and accountability to the minority community that conferred the legitimacy necessary to pursue aggressive intervention with high-risk youth...." (Read the full article)

 (Braga, Anthony A, David Hureau and Christopher Winship. "Losing Faith? Police, Black Churches, and the Resurgence of Youth Violence in Boston." Ohio State Law Journal 6, no. 1 (2008): 141-172.  Retrieved from Winship's official website at


"What Does a Healthy City Look Like?": Bill Walczak's "reflections from the grassroots" about the work of the Codman Square Health Center.

"What does a healthy city look like? A healthy community first needs to have a sense of community, and then it needs a plan; then it has a chance to improve its quality of life.  Such effort is always borne of struggle, since change is difficult.  Often, foreign visitors come to Codman Square and see our facilities, which have been described as palatial by some, and they shake their heads and say that this is impossible for them, as if our facilities just appeared out of nowhere.  Then I tell them the story of the struggle that produced the building and the programs they so admire.

I arrived on the scene in Codman Square in 1972..." (Read the full article)

(Walczak, Bill. "What Does a Healthy City Look Like? Reflections from the Grassroots." Rappaport Institute Public Lecture, November 25, 2002.  Retrieved from Harvard's website at

Too much information?

For anyone who's not interested in sifting through the full literature review, some of the more interesting parts have been compiled into a handy and concise factsheet.

Neighborhood Briefing Documents

For each neighborhood in the Project, our research team compiled a 40 page briefing document of history, maps, demographics and institutional resources.  All six documents can be found here.


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