State Grants Awarded to Methuen, Lawrence, Haverhill to Combat Youth Gang Violence

The cities of Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill have been named recipients of funding from the Commonwealth’s Shannon Community Safety Initiative to address regional youth gang violence.

The competitive Shannon program is designed to support approaches to and create strategies for reducing youth gang violence, such as community policy, youth mentoring and improving relationships among families, law enforcement and school faculty.

The City of Lawrence has received $214,700 in funding, while the cities of Methuen and Haverhill will share $130,000. Additionally, UMass Lowell has received $98,858, including $26,953 to the Haverhill/Methuen site, $26,953 to the Lawrence site and $44,952 to the Lowell site.

Funds are administered by the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

“Receiving the Shannon Grant again this year allows us to continue our community education program and Safe Haven homework center in the Arlington Neighborhood,” said Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon. “Together with the community and this funding we are providing children who are at risk with an alternative to a gang lifestyle.”
“This funding will allow us to expand and enhance our gang resistance initiative by adding a rehabilitation component to include job skills training,” said Haverhill Police Chief Alan DeNaro. “We believe no enforcement solution will succeed long term without an educational component.”

“These important funds will empower our communities in continued efforts to engage at-risk youth and provide them with a direction away from gang activity,” said State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “I look forward to working closely alongside our incredible local law enforcement and community-based partners in confronting these serious problems.”

“Shannon Grant funding has been essential to Haverhill’s efforts to address gang violence in our city,” said State Representative Andy Vargas (D-Haverhill). “We know that through effective prevention and community-based intervention strategies, we can provide young people with positive opportunities and outcomes.”

DiZoglio Financial Literacy Bill Passed by State’s Education Committee

On Tuesday, January 16, the state’s Joint Committee on Education passed State Representative Diana DiZoglio’s (D-Methuen) financial literacy bill.

A recent study conducted by the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College in Vermont assigned the Commonwealth of Massachusetts an ‘F’ grade for the quality of its financial literacy programs; a label Champlain College gave to just 11 states across the nation and which means that “the state has few requirements, or none at all, for personal finance education in high school.”

Under House Bill 2023, An Act relative to financial literacy programs in schools, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is directed to develop standards and objectives on personal financial literacy, for grades pre-kindergarten to 12, within the existing mathematics curriculum. The curriculum would include understanding loans, borrowing money, interest, credit card debt, and online commerce; as well as banking, housing, retirement and taxes.

“Teaching students how to manage their finances should be a priority and is no-brainer” said DiZoglio. “A decade ago, the U.S. financial crisis began which brought to light the low levels of financial literacy, not only in Massachusetts but across the nation. While they may be receiving a great education in other subject matters, students in Massachusetts are graduating high school without understanding how to manage a simple personal budget. As young adults they become enslaved to credit card companies, their car loans and their student loans because they don’t understand how interest works, and what it really takes to pay down those debts. We must take the lessons learned from the devastating impacts of our past financial crises and teach the next generation how recognize predatory lending practices, be fiscally responsible, and make sound investments.”

“It is important for young people to learn about short term and long term goals, the impact of planning, credit interest, compound investments, charitable contributions and more, so that they may be empowered in their choices and practice making prudent financial decisions,” said North Andover School Committee member Helen Pickard. “Financial literacy in our schools would ensure learners have access to information for their best interests, life-long.”

“As a mother and a school committee member, I want our children to be learning more than the core curriculum,” said Methuen School Committee member Jana DiNatale. “Students should leave high school with both knowledge and character, prepared to take personal responsibility for achieving their goals. Teaching students to become prudent managers of their financial resources will put them on the road to financial responsibility and security.”

“As a junior at North Andover High School, I’m beginning to think about college and my career but I feel in the dark when it comes to finances,” said Kaitlyn Parks. “Learning about financial literacy in school would be a huge help to myself and my classmates as we enter the real world.”

“This is such a huge step for the Massachusetts system of education,” said North Andover High School graduate Sarah Keith. “Financial literacy is a skill set that every student can benefit from, and having access to education on taxes, loans, and credit is crucial for future success. I have been fortunate enough to attend lectures and lessons throughout college on financial literacy, but not everyone has this opportunity post high school graduation. I love that Representative DiZoglio is sponsoring such an important piece of legislation.”

“Massachusetts educational standards are mostly great but severely lacking in any sort of financial literacy, so to learn about finance, I have to take online courses, visit banks and read the Financial Times,” said Austin Preparatory School student Sana Nadkarni. “I sincerely want to enter the financial sector, and don’t want to wait till I am in business school to learn about finance. This knowledge should be readily available, and has to start early. I am overjoyed that with the success of Representative DiZoglio’s bill, my eight-year old brother will learn real-life skills in the public school classroom, and contribute to a more educated generation of Massachusetts citizens overall, and of potential financiers.”

DiZoglio Gives Girl Scouts Hands-On Civic Lesson at State House

As part of her civic education initiative, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted a group of North Andover Girl Scouts for a visit to the State House.

As part of her civic education initiative, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted a group of North Andover Girl Scouts for a visit to the State House.

As part of her civic education initiative, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) recently hosted a group of North Andover Girl Scouts for a visit to the State House.

The troop had the opportunity to tour the State House and meet with the Representative. DiZoglio brought the students into the House Chamber, where they sat in the seats of legislators, as the Representative explained how ideas become laws. The troop then engaged in a debate, moderated by DiZoglio, over a piece of legislation.

Since 2013, DiZoglio has filed legislation to incorporate civic education in Massachusetts public schools. She also regularly visits schools across the Merrimack Valley, hosting Civic Education Days.

“Visiting the State House was such a great experience for the girls,” said North Andover School Committee member and mother Holly Vietzke-Lynch. “Rep. DiZoglio gave the girls a glimpse into the life of a state representative, and I think we may have some future politicians in our town.”

“My favorite part of the day was pretending to be a state representative and debating and voting on an issue,” said girl scout Callista Giles.

“I had a really fun time, and I learned a lot about Massachusetts history,” said girl scout Lauren Lynch. “My favorite part was the debate!”

“The scouts got to experience what legislative debate is all about,” said troop leader Bonnie Miller. “They learned to respectfully disagree.”

“Diana did an amazing job bringing the legislative process to life for our Girl Scout troop,” said troop leader Valerie Giles.

“This is our next generation of leaders, so it is important that we encourage them to be actively involved in the democratic process early on,” said DiZoglio. “The girls were given the opportunity to debate a real-life bill that impacts citizens of the Merrimack Valley. While the debate was respectful and thoughtful, it was also plenty of fun.”