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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock poses for a photo with Dejon Lewis, a fourth-grade student at McGlone Academy, who said he benefits from after-school programming. The two spoke at a Feb. 20 press conference, during which the mayor announced new funding to reduce youth violence in Denver.

The Aurora City Council voted Monday to form a compact with Denver to collaborate on developing strategies and resources to combat youth violence in both cities.

The Youth Empowerment Compact commits both cities to, in part, implement an organizational structure to manage youth programs, host community-led events across communities, coordinate with organizations targeting youth violence and create funding tools for programs and services.

“This challenge knows no borders. We need a regional, community-focused approach to break the cycle of youth violence across the metro area,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

“We need to build pathways to justice, increase safety and provide educational and employment opportunities for our youth through city-supported, community-led and youth-informed programming. Denver and Aurora can do more by working together.”

Denver has increased its youth empowerment efforts in recent years.

In 2019, Hancock convened Denver’s Youth Violence Prevention Action Table to develop a public health approach to addressing youth violence with a conglomerate of youth, community and city leaders.

Last month, Denver purchased a $3 million building in its Valverde neighborhood to establish a dedicated youth empowerment center.

“Aurora is proud to stand with Denver in declaring our shared dedication to youth empowerment,” said Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman. “We must operate as one large community, not as separate cities with separate agendas and strategies.”

In Aurora, youth empowerment initiatives have been centered around its police force, allowing the city’s youth to discuss community needs and challenges.

Youth in Aurora wrote a resource guide for the Aurora Police Department, informing the police of how to engage and start conversations with teenagers. Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson is developing a Chief’s Youth Advisory Board to further increase communication.

Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson, leader of the YVPAT, said partnering with Aurora will make the work Denver does more meaningful.

“The Denver metro is one, large community,” Bronson said. “All cities, community partners, families and youth need to champion a single, shared set of strategies to make youth violence prevention efforts effective.”

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