Anti-violence and community outreach organization Street Corner Resources has spent years on the streets of Harlem to help the community and prevent violence. The organization recently opened a new headquarters on 145th Street to increase its reach.
Founded in 2007, SCR’s mission is to get to the root of violence by providing teenagers and young adults greater access to employment, education, training and other resources. SCR runs workshops, a weekly radio broadcast called “Street Corner Resources LIVE,” Occupy The Corners, Peace Cafe and the I AM PEACE Music Studio at a Harlem High School.
The hallmark initiative of the organization is the I Am Peace Movement, which brings together every aspect of SCR in an effort to collectively establish peace as a way of life in the community.
SCR is the most recent recipient of the Cure Violence contract with the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice, funded through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and supported by the Health and Hospitals Corporation. Cure Violence is a community-based public health approach to preventing gun violence that is replicated in numerous large cities around the country and internationally.
The organization was started by Bronx native and community activist Iesha Sekou, who also serves as CEO for the organization.
“We initially started SCR to make education and employment accessible with a mobile unit,” she said. “While waiting on the mobile unit we wanted to do other things. We started responding after shootings with resources and information and knowing who the major players are in some of the gangs. Our mission is to find the way to keep young people from not being involved in gangs and get them involved in other things.”
In need of a place to meet, SCR initially gathered at restaurants and coffee shops. After that proved to be difficult, Sekou started doing workshops in high schools. With help from City Council Member Inez Dickens and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Sekou secured funding to build an office and music studio at Harlem Renaissance High School.
She was later able to obtain a basement space in Harlem from a developer on 140th Street in 2015. The space was used for the Peace Cafe Open Mic Night, where young artists meet monthly to rap, sing, dance and entertain.
An effort was soon underway to get SCR a storefront and official headquarters. Community leaders, elected officials, residents, law enforcement and supporters wrote letters and called the mayor’s office about the work Sekou and SCR were doing.
The effort led to SCR getting funding to obtain a space at 151 W 145th St., a space owned by the same developer who had previously provided the basement. The entire process took about a year from contracting to construction and furnishing the space. SCR opened its doors to its new headquarters Dec. 8.
“Our space will be used for people who are in the area,” Sekou said. “They can get legal aid and help with getting a lawyer; we have programs for people who have had some interaction with the law and need help with GED and other services. We are also going to provide grief support for people who have lost a loved one to violence.”
Sekou added that she wants the new space to be a place where people can come if they feel uncomfortable or if they are having issues around violence.
“We want it to be a safe haven and place where anyone can get support, particularly around violence and intervention,” she said.