Former gang leader, Dr. Joseph M. Jennings, is the President and Founder of Second Chances Outreach Inc., working to carry out the mission of preventing youth violence by providing positive alternatives to gang involvement, drug use, bullying and other high-risk behaviors.
Joseph grew up in the black ghetto of South Bend, Indiana, the oldest son of thirteen kids. Raised to live a lifestyle of gang and drug-related violence, he stopped at nothing in his attempt to attain the material success he thought was the “American Dream.” Joseph’s quest resulted in him being burned, stabbed, and shot thirteen times, yet still unfulfilled and feeling empty.
Now, as an International Motivational Speaker, Joseph travels the world with his “Choices” program, “Bullied 2 Bully” message, and “Stop the Silence, Bury the Violence” campaign. He is known for leaving long lasting impressions in the minds of those he speaks to… from young men dropping their rags at his feet to walk away from their “set” on the spot and rival gangs calling a truce at the close of his assemblies to kids who have “bullied” others leaving their seats to go hug and apologize to their peers at the end of his message.
Drawing upon his experience of speaking in over 2,400 schools to millions of young people, Dr. Jennings realized the importance of cultivating long lasting relationships and providing a “family” for youth who are simply looking for someone to love and support them.
As a response, he developed the R.A.W. D.A.W.G.S. Youth Corps, a gang prevention program designed to help boys become young men without the influence of the streets. The pilot program was implemented in Wichita, Kansas with incredible results. Of the one hundred sixty 7-13 year old boys who were served, our follow up evaluations showed that only one went on to join a gang. The same success has also been mirrored by R.A.W.D.A.W.G.S. program in other communities, most recently in Fort Pierce, Florida and currently in the planning phase in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 2006, Dr. Jennings launched a new effort with the help of a “Communities Empowering Youth” (CEY) grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
He began offering training and technical assistance on topics like violence and gang prevention to bullying, anti-drugs, and abstinence to schools, non-profits and faith-based organizations that have a heart for kids and desire to put an end to the violence in their communities.
Dr. Joseph Jennings is by many, considered an expert in the field of gangs, bullying and youth violence. He is continually approached for help from communities in need of practical, effective solutions for today’s generation.
• Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Destiny School of Ministry in 2006
• Served as a “National Youth Advocate” on President George W. Bush’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in 2002-2004
• Served on the “Koch Crime Commission” (commissioned by Governor Joan Finney) in Wichita, Kansas in 1994 and 1995
• Received numerous proclamations and declarations from multiple governors and mayors for positively impacting their communities
• Featured on a host of local and nationally syndicated television and radio shows including but not limited to FOX News, NBC News, “The Ricki Lake Show”, “The Jenny Jones Show”, and a keynote speaker for an FBI/CIA Gang Prevention program on the C-SPAN Network
MAJOR PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS:
• Director of “Stop the Silence, Bury the Violence” National Campaign
• Gang Prevention and Intervention Educator • Youth Life Coach – individual and small group • International Motivational Speaker addressing gangs, youth violence, bullying, anti-drug, and abstinence
• Youth Program Development – Founder of RAWDAWGS Youth Corps and G-Unit Mentoring Project • Community Violence Prevention Coordinator – bringing together businesses, schools, churches, government, etc.
“Prisoner of the American Dream – Joseph Jennings Life Story”
“Black Man, White Man: The Tale of Two Friends”
“Bad Boy Turned Good: A Second Chance”
RAWDAWGS Youth Corps Manuals (Student Handbook, Leadership Manuel, and Motivational Guide), as well as hundreds of magazine articles on youth violence and gang prevention