For Immediate Release - September 15, 2015

Robert Kraft, AG Healey, And New England Patriots Charitable Foundation Launch First-Of-Its Kind Youth Violence Prevention Program

“Game Change: The Patriots Anti-Violence Partnership” will train students, teachers, coaches on relationship violence in public high schools across Massachusetts; $1.5 million in gifts distributed by New England Patriots Charitable Foundation to address

Press Conference Materials:

BOSTON – New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Attorney General Maura Healey today announced a groundbreaking partnership aimed at preventing youth relationship violence. 

“Game Change: The Patriots Anti-Violence Partnership” takes a multi-faceted approach to violence prevention education. The program, funded with $500,000 from the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and $150,000 from the Attorney General’s Office, will provide training for students, faculty and coaches at 90 public high schools in Massachusetts. It also includes an innovative partnership that will pair schools with local domestic violence and sexual assault service providers to provide ongoing support to schools.

The Game Change program is one component of a $1.5 million domestic violence and sexual assault prevention initiative developed by the Kraft Family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation. The initiative will also fund a comprehensive training and community building initiative, provide skills training and capacity support for frontline advocates and leaders in the movement to end domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as major funding to select service providers that are delivering programs at the local level.

“One in three young people has experienced physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse in a relationship,” said Attorney General Healey. “Too often, we don’t see it until it’s too late. This program will help prevent violence by reaching students at an early age and teaching them about healthy relationships, how to recognize warning signs and how to intervene. I want to thank Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation for their incredible leadership on this issue. It will make a difference for so many young people and their families.”

“We are excited to team up with Attorney General Healey to help prevent relationship violence, particularly among young people,” said Kraft. “We need to tackle this problem from all angles – through preventive measures like this one, and by providing resources for survivors in the aftermath of trauma.”

The Game Change trainings will be conducted by the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program (MVP), a nationwide leader in addressing violence prevention. Run by the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, MVP uses a sports-themed curriculum and employs collegiate athletes and former professional athletes as trainers.

“The Attorney General and the Kraft Family have each been tireless advocates for using sport to promote positive social change,” said Dan Lebowitz, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society. “Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society has embraced that platform for over 30 years and is excited to be a part of this first-of-its kind statewide initiative to empower young people, teachers and coaches with the skills and tools they need to promote healthy relationships and to recognize and prevent teen dating violence in their schools and communities.”

Together, the Attorney General’s Office, MVP, and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will select the first 90 schools to participate in the initiative. Schools will be chosen from every region of the state and will include a cross-section of rural, urban and suburban schools. Two adult representatives from each school will participate in a three-day training run by the MVP program. Schools will be selected this fall with trainings to begin in the winter.

MVP will also provide more in-depth trainings to 30 high schools – five in each of the six statewide regions – in partnership with local domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organizations. The advocacy organizations will help train school staff and parents and work with school administrators on policies and services for students and families dealing with violence. Students from each of those schools will also be trained to become peer leaders who can teach younger students about healthy relationships and bystander intervention.

With assistance from Jane Doe Inc., and in coordination with the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, the Attorney General’s Office will select the local domestic violence and sexual assault organizations that will pair up with MVP in order to provide ongoing support for schools that have gone through the training.

“Through this investment, Mr. Kraft and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation are helping to change how we work across disciplines to promote safety and justice for all survivors,” said Debra Robbin, Executive Director of Jane Doe Inc. “From our local sexual and domestic violence member programs to our partners in government and the private sector, this generous gift will afford us the opportunity to strengthen prevention, support survivors and build a culture free of violence and abuse.”

The Game Change program will also include online support tools for schools and an evaluation component to determine the effectiveness of the program in changing attitudes and behaviors.

Schools interested in applying for the Game Change program can visit www.mass.gov/ago/gamechange.

AG Healey has made tackling domestic violence and sexual assault a key priority. AG Healey is committed to building on that work by raising awareness and providing assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors of every walk of life.

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