Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s Office awarded $5,000 in seized drug money to a Chelsea community group to provide support for a teen summer employment program, and a teen youth group dedicated to community and social justice projects.
Members of Conley’s Community Relations unit delivered the $5,000 check, drawn from his office’s Asset Forfeiture Reinvestment Program, to Gladys Vega, executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative. Vega said the agency would use the money to fund the Ready Individuals Organizing Teen Squad (RIOT), a youth group consisting of Chelsea high school students who work with staff organizers on community organizing and social justice programs. Funds will also be used to help support the Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI), which was created to reduce youth violence. SYEI hires hundreds of youths during the summer months to help keep them off the streets, while providing them with the opportunity to develop work skills, create lasting relationships with mentors, and take part in weekly educational and enrichment activities.
The money reflects a portion of drug dealers’ cash and assets seized by Conley’s office, State Police, and local law enforcement agencies during narcotics investigations in the past year. Massachusetts law allows up to 10% of those monies to be redistributed to non-profit community groups within the district attorney’s jurisdiction.
“If even a small amount of funding can help keep a youth group open to young people seeking a safe, healthy alternative to drugs and criminal activity, then that is a worthy investment,” Conley said. “Over the years, this annual program has delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars to Suffolk County youth groups, and we look forward to continuing this tradition for many years to come.”
This year’s awards total $50,000, which is $32,500 more than the funds distributed in the first round of reinvestment grants 17 years ago. The program has been in existence since 1992, when the awards totaled $17,500.
The annual grant application is available in June, and awards are distributed to eligible Suffolk groups in the fall.