COMPASS Youth Collaborative & HYPE Work to Help Youth In Hartford

There are countless organizations working to make a difference in young people's lives to help steer them away from a life of crime.

After a shooting, drive-by or fight in a Hartford neighborhood, you can find a compass peacebuilder there or on the way.

"They're risking their lives at times and they go out in the community with no weapons, or bulletproof vests," said Jacquelyn Santiago, CEO for the COMPASS Youth Collaborative.

The group got its start more than a decade ago and has a goal of working with at-risk teenagers.

"A lot of work is dealing with making sure that we can arrive at a peaceful place when tragedies hit," said Dean Jones, director of the COMPASS Peacebuilders. "It's been an uphill battle, and the battle isn't a negative battle, we're just trying to save lives."

Jacquelyn Santiago believes in order to cut down on the violence, establishing relationships with the youth is a requirement.

"Despite all of the things that they've gone through that there's not going to be someone at Peacebuilder that's going to say sorry, this is your last strike," said Santiago. "There are a lot of disconnected youth that could use the type of unconditional support and love that the peacebuilders offer them."

One of the peacebuilders who's typically out in the streets is Warren Hardy Jr., who at one point fell into a life of crime.

"I made a lot of mistakes in my life and I believe some of my actions trickled down to young people," Hardy Jr. said. "I want to try and clean up the mess that I made."

Hardy Jr. created his own organization called HYPE, which stands for Helping Young People Evolve. Throughout the years, he's helped students with their homework and even handed out hamburgers and hot dogs for the youth even sometimes using his own money to foot the bill.

"My goal is to establish a relationship with the young person and try to remove whatever barriers that may be preventing them from participating in things that will bring life to them and not death," said Hardy Jr.

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