The recent article by Chris Faraone about the StreetSafe Initiative of the Boston Foundation includes a number of significant errors of fact and characterization. (See "The War Over Peace," February 5.) This reflects the fact that it was cobbled together from previously published accounts with no input from anyone involved in the initiative and with no attempt to fact-check any of the material included.
The foundation was first approached by Chris Faraone in December of 2009 with the proposal to write about StreetSafe Boston. There was no time frame given. We agreed to speak later about the possibility. I did not hear from him, but later called and left a message for him following up, responding to his interest without specifying any time frame.
Later, he called me and I told him that we were in the process of reviewing some aspects of the program, and that we would need to complete that process before we would be able to give access to a reporter.
In this brief phone call, Chris never suggested that he was working on a story or that he planned to go ahead with the story; nor did he ask for access to anyone here involved in StreetSafe Boston, nor did he ask a single question about the program. To my knowledge he never spoke with anyone else at the foundation. Nor did he apparently ever explore the Web site streetsafeboston.org, which would have provided information about the program.
This inaccurate and irresponsible story about the StreetSafe program and the Boston Foundation has caused significant damage.
Among the errors of fact are the following:
Faraone writes "But the foundation is already having difficulty funding its youth-intervention specialists." Later in the article, he writes: "donations are reported down." In fact, despite a challenging economic environment over the past year, all of the money for the FY2009 budget has been raised, as has all of the money for the FY2010 budget. Fundraising is currently underway and on track for FY2011.
Faraone states that "[The Boston Foundation] currently employs 16 streetworkers." In fact, StreetSafe currently employs 20 streetworkers and an additional five streetworker coordinators for a total of 25.
Faraone refers to the initiative as having been "launched just four months earlier," using as his starting point a WBUR program in November which addressed the issue of youth violence. In fact, the initiative was launched in December of 2008 (11 months before) and streetworkers were commissioned and set to work in June of 2009 (five months before the program).
Faraone refers to the foundation saying: "Some observers also distrust the lilywhite TBF . . ." In fact, the Boston Foundation was the first community foundation in the United States to be headed by an African-American, Anna Faith Jones, who served as director from 1985 until 2001. The current vice-president for program, who served as the architect of the StreetSafe Boston Initiative, is also African-American.
Faraone refers to "[Robert] Lewis, who was at the time soliciting donations by touring potential benefactors on 'Boston by Night' rides around combat zones." In fact, no one is solicited for donations after a Boston by Night tour.
Faraone writes of StreetSafe Boston: "the initial $26 million proposal had been scaled back 20 percent." In fact, as the initiative went through the initial planning process, it was determined that the goals (which have not been scaled back) could be achieved for a lesser amount of money.