Guided by a prophetic faith, YMPJ’s purpose is to transform both the people and the physical infrastructure of blighted South Bronx neighborhoods and change the systems that negatively impact them. Founded in 1994, the mission of Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice (YMPJ) is to rebuild the neighborhoods of Bronx River and Soundview/Bruckner in the South Bronx by preparing young people to become prophetic voices for peace and justice. We accomplish this through political education, spiritual formation, and youth and community development and organizing.
Alexie Torres-Fleming founded Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice as a result of witnessing the destruction of the South Bronx as a child in the in the sixties and seventies. After moving “up and out” of the neighborhood and realizing professional success outside of the community, Alexie felt called to return home in the fall of 1992. While volunteering at her parish’s community action group, she helped lead an anti-drug prayer march in front of well-known crack houses in the neighborhood. Two days later, drug dealers retaliated by breaking into the church, committing vandalism, smashing statues and setting several fires. Determined not to let the drug dealers win, a second rally mobilized 1,200 people and resulted in national press attention and the ultimate closing and rehabbing of those crack houses. Soon thereafter Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ) was founded as the first and only youth center in a neighborhood of more than 15,000 youth, 50% of who live below the poverty level.
Our vision is the positive transformation of these impoverished neighborhoods, which we work to attain through our mission to re-imagine and rebuild the Bronx River and Soundview/Bruckner neighborhoods by preparing young people to become prophetic voices for peace and justice. We accomplish this mission of inspiring youth through a unique model of political education, spiritual formation, and youth and community development and organizing. As YMPJ values and prioritizes youth and adult voices and leadership in the process of community revitalization, our initiatives involve residents in the planning process in order to ensure that YMPJ’s vision for the community coincides with that of its residents. We conduct our work through a three-pronged transformative approach: