We seek to help at-risk youth entangled within today's gang culture

Hardknox Gang Prevention & Intervention

Gang Prevention and Intervention

About Hardknox

Mission Statement

We seek to help at-risk youth/adults entangled within today’s gang culture take small steps, in big ways, that lead to big changes within their lives.

Vision Statement

To understand our youth and adults and their perception of the world that surrounds them. Help our youth and adults create new vision and new goals that challenge them beyond what they believed possible through a process of determination, focus and perseverance.

Mark Salazar, HardKnox Gang Prevention, Pueblo, Colorado

The Hardknox Gang Prevention and Intervention program was officially founded in July 2015 as a 501C3, Nonprofit Corporation. Mr. Salazar is licensed with the Secretary of State and his licensure is in good standing. Additionally, Mr. Salazar is fully insured with HPSCO. He is also licensed with DORA as a Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS). HardKnox is currently contracted with the Pueblo County DSS providing therapeutic mentoring to high-risk kids in the community and is an approved Treatment Provider for Adult Parole. HardKnox is also contracted with the Pueblo Library District, providing services on Pueblo’s East Side, which is a high gang traffic area.  The goal of the Hardknox program is to promote positive change internally and mentally by reducing violence, raising awareness, and building self-efficacy in the program participants.  This is accomplished by emphasizing educational achievement, strategic life skills training, building intrinsic motivation, personal health and well-being and identifying treatment and counseling needs. 

Mark recently completed a gang training, in which he received a certificate as a Certified Gang Specialist (CBGS).

Benefits of a Gang Prevention & Intervention Program:

We seek to teach participants how to create a cost/benefit analysis related to their decision-making process regarding peers, criminal/anti-social and impulsive thinking.

Provide participants with skills essential with improving their quality of life. Provide education and support to families.

Hardknox Gang Prevention & Intervention

Participants Receive, but are not limited to:

Positive Outcome Expectations and Goal Setting:

For victims of bullying, the goal is to increase self-confidence, problem solving skills and conflict resolution skills. The goal for those targeted as exhibiting bullying behaviors is to develop healthy coping and problem-solving skills, addressing anger issues, increase self-confidence and look at external issues (i.e. home environments) which may be contributing to these behaviors.

Mark’s Disclosure and Criminal History

Mr. Salazar is a former gang member, whose gang activity led him to serve 8.5 years in prison and 5 years mandatory parole. Mr. Salazar was raised within the gang culture. At a young age, he knew he would go to prison, he just didn’t know for what or for how long. In Mr. Salazar’s case, he shot a partner, from the same neighborhood, after Mr., Salazar felt that person disrespected him in front of his mother. Mr. Salazar was then shot five times by the police.  During his time in prison, Mr. Salazar decided not only to leave the gang lifestyle behind, but also to help those still struggling within the gang culture. Mr. Salazar earned an AA degree after leaving prison and began work on his bachelor’s degree. He also earned certification as a chemical dependency counselor. Over the past 17 years, Mr. Salazar has educated numerous professionals about our gang problem here in Pueblo, CO. He has over 37 years of firsthand experience with gangs in general. We have also provided our gang services to hundreds of youths and young adults. Gang involvement, poverty and substance use all go hand in hand.  Gangs are a multi-generational & cultural issue. Gang members tend to form a connection with Mr. Salazar quickly, simply because he looks like them, he speaks their language, and he has lived their circumstances. They trust in knowing that he already understands them before they speak. As such, he is able to build a rapport with them.  Mr. Salazar is able to provide excellent references upon request.

In 1995, Mr. Salazar was convicted of Assault in the First Degree and Menacing with a Deadly Weapon, arising out of the same case. He was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, followed by 5 years’ mandatory parole. He served 8.5 years in prison, and successfully completed a 5-year parole term. He has not been involved in the criminal justice system since. He maintains positive relationships with various community agencies.

Mark recently completed a gang training, in which he received a certificate as a Certified Gang Specialist (CBGS).