The Neighborhood Advocate

Youth Advocate Programs (YAP™) Dallas Leader Recognized for Violence Intervention Work

YAP Dallas Cred includes Juan Perez, Tonya Sparks, YAP consultant Derrick Battie (middle), Victor Alvelais and Untruan Grant.

Dallas, Texas – The Director of Youth Advocate Programs (YAP™) Inc.’s Dallas Cred violence interruption team is a nominee of The Epiphany Advocates of Change Award. He will be recognized during the April 6 Inaugural Life to Legacy Gala hosted by the Bishop Omar Jahwar Foundation.

Victor Alvelais has been a part of the Dallas Cred team since its inception and has led the team since 2022. YAP launched Dallas CRED in May 2021 as part of the City of Dallas to include violence interrupters in its public safety strategy. The violence interruption approach was recommended as part of the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities. Today Dallas Cred is funded through the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund.

YAP is a national nonprofit in 35 states and Washington, D.C. partnering with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, education, and other systems to deliver community-based services as an alternative to incarceration and residential care, and group home foster placements. YAP’s evidence-based wraparound services model is also part of the nonprofit’s growing community violence intervention and prevention work in communities across the nation. 

 “Bishop Omar was a pioneer in brining community violence intervention services to Dallas. I am honored and humbled to be acknowledged as a nominee for this award,” Alvelais said. “This is a testament to the hard work that the Dallas Cred team does in helping the community and our neighbors; and I’m honored to have the opportunity to support and learn from each of my co-workers and the people we serve every day.”

YAP Dallas Cred Director Victor Alvelais.

According to the Bishop Omar Jahwar Foundation, nominees are Dallas residents who demonstrated the spirit of Bishop Jahwar through business excellence, ethical standards and behaviors, and the desire to uphold social responsibility within their communities. The Bishop Omar Jahwar Foundation partners with change agents who impact lives in underserved communities and break down barriers that prevent people from seeing themselves as God sees them.

“The Bishop Omar Jahwar Foundation partners with change agents who impact lives in underserved communities and break barriers that prevent people from seeing themselves as God sees them. We do this by providing pathways to opportunity with resources, support, funding, workshops, and tools,” said Fayth Jefferson, sister of Omar Jahwar. “The Bishop Omar Jahwar Gala  is our inaugural signature fundraising event to highlight and invest in individuals, groups, and organizations who inspire their communities.”

Dallas Cred focuses on identifying individuals who meet criteria for being at the highest risk levels of being engaged in violence. These include people who have recently returned home from jail or prison or are otherwise justice system-involved; individuals who are gang-affiliated; and those who have recently lost someone to gun violence and at risk for retaliating. At the same time, the team works to help individuals throughout these neighborhoods see their strengths while connecting them with tools to help them put their lives on a positive course. In addition to Alvelais, Dallas Cred consists of Violence Interrupters Tonya Sparks, Juan Perez and Credible Messenger Untruan Grant.

“Everyone brings a separate piece to the puzzle to effect positive change. Myself and Juan were recently from prison after serving 26 years and Tonya and Untruan have been doing this work for over a decade,” Alvelais said. The whole Dallas Cred team together brings a lot of unique skills and qualities from which I am constantly learning from.”

After serving 26 years in prison, Alvelais returned home to Dallas where he grew up and dedicated his life to making sure others did not choose a path that led to prison.

“Sadly, I have a shared lived experience with the community,” Alvelais added. “It was because of some poor decisions I made in the past. Being a part of Dallas Cred is part of my own personal road to redemption for which there is never an end goal except to continue to make a difference.”

While in prison, Alvelais worked as a coordinator for the Virginia Department of Corrections Veterans Housing Community where he established the Veterans Housing Unit, created a rehabilitative program for residents, organized work projects for the vets, and advocated for resources and opportunities for them. Prior to that, he led the National Second Chance Organization, providing redemption resources to incarcerated individuals, leading fundraisers, advocating for second-chance opportunities for incarcerated people, and publishing a newsletter.  Alvelais is a graduate of Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Dallas and the author of L.I.F.E. Sentences, a daily affirmation book aimed at preparing incarcerated people for a successful release.

The Life to Legacy Gala will be held at 7 p.m. at Gilley’s Dallas, 650 North Avenue I in Dallas. For tickets and more information, visit bojf.orgBishop Omar died in 2021.

Learn more about YAP and how you can support the nonprofit’s work at Follow the organization on X @YAPInc.  

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