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--- Issued August 11, 2017

NEWSPAPER – by the Editorial Board:

"OUR VIEW: BROCK FIGHTS ERIE'S SPIRITUAL BLIGHT" _ 08/11/2017

"He is one of the most prominent among several praiseworthy champions of Erie’s endangered youth who this summer took disciplined, generous strides to offer Erie’s most at-risk youth affirmation, opportunity and a hopeful glimpse of the potential within them."

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"We have devoted countless words to strongly advocating for unflinching and vigorous implementation of Erie Refocused, the city of Erie’s $600 million makeover plan.

The planning document rightly focuses on the city’s physical landscape, its housing stock, transportation corridors and community assets, in order to restore Erie as a vibrant city of choice with a stable middle class and a healthy real estate market.

That process will be an empty exercise minus an equal focus on the restoration of the city’s human potential.

Many of the same social and economic forces that gave rise to Erie’s most blighted neighborhoods continue to take a devastating toll on the people who live in them. The most demoralizing indicator is seen in the lives, especially of young black men, lost to gun violence or wasted in prison.

Too often, revitalization merely displaces social disorder. We prefer Bishop Dwane Brock’s remedy.

He is one of the most prominent among several praiseworthy champions of Erie’s endangered youth who this summer took disciplined, generous strides to offer Erie’s most at-risk youth affirmation, opportunity and a hopeful glimpse of the potential within them.

As detailed by Erie Times-News reporter Ed Palattella, Brock just concluded his first session of the African-American Boys Academy, a five-week day camp for boys of all races that focuses on the elements of strong character — discipline and respect — as well as a focus on African and African-American history.

Earlier in the summer, the Erie County Summer Jobs and More program, started in 2014 at the urging of Brock and other minority leaders, entered its fourth season offering up to 175 young people work experience at 40 local businesses.

In June, Brock, in cooperation with the Erie Community Foundation and the Erie Housing Authority, opened two new blacktopped basketball courts near his church, the Victory Christian Center.

Erie police added to this positive momentum by hosting with Gannon University its first Police Athletic League summer day camp. Led by Cpl. Tom Lenox, it aims to build healthy relationships between police and young people, and help inner-city youth envision a possible future in law enforcement.

Like Brock’s program, it exposed kids to lifetime firsts. Brock’s students, some of whom had never before left Erie, traveled to Washington, D.C.

“My responsibility is to change the trajectory,” Brock told Palattella, “so they are not headed to thuggery or prison but headed to education and to be an asset to the community.

 "This work to help young people recognize their own worth and imagine lives not shaped by poverty or blight, nor given meaning by violence, should be recognized for what it is, lifesaving not only for youth, but for Erie as a whole."

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Bishop Dwane Brock is Chair of the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie.