Urban Specialists

Transforming urban culture to eradicate generational poverty and irrational violence
The best way to help a struggling community is to empower individuals that are inside the community to be the change.
– Pastor Omar Jahwar

Urban culture is laced with messages of violence, racism, and division that lead to destructive behavior. Gang violence wreaks havoc on communities, particularly jeopardizing youth, and creates division between law enforcement and residents. Without standing against the violence, communities remain in a cycle of violence and poverty.

The SOLUTION

Urban Specialists (US) leverages the experience and credibility of ex-gang members, former offenders, and professionals to reduce gang violence and increase community opportunities in Dallas. US takes an inside out approach to transforming community. Urban Specialists capitalize on their unique cultural credibility to foster relationships and collaborative communication to break through the anger and distrust embedded in the local urban culture of south Dallas. It is through their local roots and demonstrated credibility that the Urban Specialists can effectively identify and address the critical issues that are trapping this community in a cycle of poverty.

Urban Specialists takes a three-pronged approach to replacing the destructive influence of urban culture with positive messages. The 3-I Model has proven to reduce the rate of crime and help break the cycle of generational poverty.

  • INVADE. US invades the urban culture – laced with messages of violence, racism, and division that lead to destructive behavior – to advance healthy, proactive messages of empowerment.
  • INTRUDE. US enters the depths of the community to offer alternatives to lives of crime, gang violence, and poverty. By challenging values, morals, and behaviors, trained Specialists positively influence actions and behaviors of those they serve.
  • INSTITUTE. US plays a vital role in translating the needs of the urban community to effectively bridge organizations’ programs and services to the underserved urban community.

 

The ever presence of Urban Specialists in the community is a crucial factor in the widespread success of the organization. Trained Urban Specialists accompany youth on school buses, at bus stops, and on the walk to school to diffuse violence and tension in gang-controlled areas. Other trained Urban Specialists focus on law enforcement, economic stimulus, and community development. The purposeful combination of these core competencies results in the community’s restoration and renewed vigor. Committed to influencing the lives of community residents, Urban Specialists promote messages of empowerment instead of dependency and peace instead of violence.

The Story

Pastor Omar Jahwar, a prominent city leader and gang interventionist, applied his years of experience and success quelling youth violence in the streets of Dallas to found Urban Specialists in 1998. Since then, Urban Specialists has gained the respect and trust of both the community and law enforcement as an effective mediator and positive cultural influence.

Antong Lucky, the founder and former leader of the Dallas 415 Bloods gang, is Urban Specialists’ Master Educator/Trainer. As a young teenager, Lucky was embroiled in a life of crime, gang violence, and drug dealing that ultimately landed him in prison. With the harsh reality of imprisonment and the personal mentoring of Pastor Jahwar, upon release from prison, Lucky joined Jahwar’s efforts to reduce youth violence. With single minded determination, Lucky pursues the vision of transforming urban culture – an example of a true evolution of the mind and spirit.

US has played a key role connecting community, ex-gang, judicial, law enforcement and corrections leaders to repair breaches in the community and develop the best practices for ending youth violence.

S+ Partnership

Stand Together is partnering with Urban Specialists through the Woodson Center to reduce gang violence and revitalize the Dallas community. The investment will help codify the unique model, increase training capacity, and identify key cities for pilot expansion.

Dallas, Texas
est. 1998
Leadership
Pastor Omar Jahwar
Founder & CEO
Read bio
Before founding US, Pastor Omar Jahwar created Vision Regeneration, which provided counseling and mentoring services to Dallas schools. He was the first person to hold the recognized position of Gang Interventionist in Texas. In 2000, he negotiated the first gang truce in Dallas between the “Crips” and “Bloods.” Pastor Jahwar has spent countless days and nights fighting for the belief that every person, regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status, is entitled to the same opportunities. Pastor Jahwar holds to his conviction that to be a great leader, one must lead and produce other leaders. Pastor Jahwar also currently pastors at Kingdom Worship and Restoration Church in Dallas.
Success Metrics
20
years of service
57
schools and organizations served
16,834
people helped
346
Urban Specialists trained
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