The Problem

Every day the headlines confirm that gang membership and gang violence are on the rise in Denver, Aurora and the suburbs and across the country. The media makes it sound like such a big problem that many of us continue to remove ourselves from the problem, unless we are directly affected by it. We forget that gangs are not just numbers and statistics.

They are made up of young lives, families and neighbourhoods. All colors, all ages, all income levels. No one is exempt.

That’s why we hope you’ll take a few moments to learn more about Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives. We want you to know about you the problem, our mission, our vision, our theory, our programs, and how you can get involved. But most of all we want you to get to know the people who are on the front lines of gang violence. People who are fighting to help keep our communities safe and people who’ve been affected by the problems. Because we think if you see the fear, the violence and pain through their eyes, you’ll see that gangs are made up of young lives in families. And only individuals like you can help us find a solution to the problem.

Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives Mission Statement

We strive to  establish credible education, sustained resources and life-altering relationships with at-risk youth, their families and the communities affected by gang culture, violence and recruitment by providing alternative positive and structured activities, family support and gang intervention services.

Our Theory

There is certainly no one-step solution to solving the gang problem here, or in any city. But Open Door has developed a program that is targeted both at prevention and at showing current members alternate paths for their lives.

Prevention, Crisis, Intervention and Mediation

Our professional staff intervenes as appropriate and on an on-call basis in locations where violence is about to occur or has already taken place. This is conducted as positive, non-interfering assistance to officials responsible for the safety and security of our communities.  

Support Services Program

This is designed to give potential and actual gang members a number to call and place to come when they need support, help making choices, answers, assistance or just someone to talk to. Much like AA, we believe the strongest counseling comes from someone who has lived through similar experiences.

Family and Victim Support

Gangs not only affect members, they take a terrible toil on entire families. That’s why Reverend Kelly, or someone designated by him, meets regularly with families of actual or potential gang members to offer support and understanding and to help them become a part of the solution. Families of victims of gang violence are also part of this support group program.

Public Education

A secondary mission of Open Door is to educate the community on gang activities symptoms and possible solutions. There programs are tailored for schools, corporations, civic groups, law-enforcement agencies and other non-profit agencies. Through these programs we hope to have all segments of our neighborhoods working together to reduce gang activity.

Our Impact

Open Door was founded in December 1988 and is spearheaded by Reverend Leon Kelly. It is a community-based, non-law enforcement and is not-for-profit. The primary mission of Open Door is to help curb gang related violence and gang recruitment activities in the Denver Metro area.

Although our most important goal is to prevent non-gang members from ever joining, it is also vitally important that we form a rapport with existing gang members. We now have the unique role of being neutral territory for gang members, bringing members of rival gangs together so that they may learn more about each other and begin to see past neighborhood property lines and symbolic colors. Open Door strives to identify potential and actual gang members and targets alternatives programs directly to these youth. Reverend Kelly is renowned for his relationships with these kids, his ability to earn the respect of rival factions and his skill at defusing potentially violent circumstances. He serves as a powerful role model to hundreds.

In addition to it’s After-School Program, Open Door also spearheads a program with the State of Colorado, Department of Corrections that aims to reduce recidivism among gang-affiliated parolees. Flippin’ the Script creates specialized and individualized plans which offer assistance in the areas of housing, employment, job readiness, transportation, money management, mentoring, family relationship, and support systems. Flippin’ the Script helps parolees bridges the gap between release and reality.

In a one year period, Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives was involved in more than 200 crisi interventions on the street and 530 individual and family assistance sessions. Reverend Kelly and his staff made 144 presentations to schools, churches, corporations, and law enforcement agencies and handled more than 7,000 calls.

Our Vision

Open Door’s most important goal is to prevent kids in our community from ever joining gangs. We have developed successful programs for our elementary and middle school-aged children that focus on gang recruitment prevention. Our programs are tailored for schools, corporations, other non-profit agencies, law enforcement agencies, community and civic groups. The programs seek to educate individuals and the community on the signs revolving around gang recruitment, gang violence and community involvement to reduce crime.

Regardless of the size of your donation, your money stays right here in our city– working with kids who have stories and lives just like the ones we’ve introduced you to. Although we are realistic about the incredible size of the gang problem, we know the every life we touch is a step closer to the solution. You can help us change a life. Change a neighborhood. Change the direction of the next generation. It’s not too big of a problem when we work together to save one kid at a time.

 Getting Involved

All funding for Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives is obtained from private donations and corporate/foundation giving. Many major organizations are already contributors to our effort. And while we appreciate their generosity, we want you to know that we also need you to help us make a difference in a young person’s life.

A financial contribution from you or your company can help us provide more viable alternatives to activities for member and potential member. We truly believe that the more things we can offer these kids to do and to become involved i, the less violence will occur. Your financial contributions would also enable us to provide vehicles for youth transportation, tickets for special activities and outings, field trips, office equipment and supplies, gasoline and auto maintenance. We also gladly accept donations of service equipment or monthly pledges specifically designated for personnel assistance. We also have a wish list of supplies needed for the school children. All donations are accepted. 

And of course we always accept the donation of your time and your energy. Corporation or individuals are a big help to us on our phone lines, for clerical assistance or helping with activities events or our prison correspondence program.

Please consider volunteering to mentor our school aged children. Children range in age from Kindergarten through grade 8. Be a positive role model in school, out of school, and in the community. It takes a village to raise a child, and we are honored to lead the way in a positive, structured, and disciplined environment that allows for these at-risk individuals to reach their fullest potential. And be successful in life.