MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA
DREAMS & FUTURES
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
In 1996 the Mountain View Police Department, along with Foothill College, Mountain View School District, Whisman School District and 25 other community organizations and local businesses, began a pilot gang prevention program in the City of Mountain View. Called Dreams & Futures, the program targets 70-90 fourth- to seventh-grade students for participation in a two-week summer program focused on building positive self-esteem, providing children with the skills and opportunities needed to succeed, and assisting them in developing a sense of community within the larger society.
Dreams & Futures was conceived as a gang prevention effort to serve children that fall into a higher risk category for gang involvement, and features academic, athletic and enrichment components designed to give support and guidance needed to find alternatives to gang involvement.
The academic component consists of five hours daily of basic writing skills and computer awareness at a local school. Summer school teachers are contracted to provide the curriculum. The athletic component consists of two, week-long sports camps (soccer and basketball) lasting two hours a day. The enrichment component is implemented after the summer program. It is designed to get the children involved in activities throughout the school year, such as basketball and soccer leagues, community involvement activities like the Mayorís Youth Conference, community clean up programs, and Thanksgiving food give-away programs, to name a few.
2. When was the program created and why?
Like many cities in California, Mountain View has been faced with increasing youth gang activity ranging from graffiti to shootings in recent years. This increase was most notable in 1992, with an 18 percent increase in gang-related cases, followed by a 27 percent increase in 1993, and a 9 percent increase in 1994. Along with increases of gang-related cases, the level of violence and increased injuries due to gang activity were rising as well. As the numbers of gang members and gang violence grew, the City created a gang officer position to begin addressing these issues, but it was quickly learned that gang suppression efforts alone would not be enough to address the growing problem. Intervention and prevention components were needed, and the Dreams & Futures program was initiated in the summer of 1996 as the centerpiece of Mountain Viewís prevention efforts.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
Initial tracking of children who have participated in the program through local police records and school records have shown dramatic results in the reduction of gang activity. Actual criminal statistics have shown an overall reduction of over 50 percent over the past two years, going from 80-plus gang-related cases annually (excluding graffiti) to 39. Also, over half of the children who attended the first two years of the program went on to junior high school, and the schools attended by Dreams & Futures participants tracked these students for gang activity and related problems such as truancy or behavioral problems and, as of this date, no negative reports have been received.
In addition to the gang prevention aspects, a second benefit of the program has been the long-term, "one on one" relationships developed between the police officers and kids. These relationships continue throughout the year, with Dreams & Futures-sponsored sporting activities, field trips, program and sport participation scholarships, and community programs.
Also important to note is that roughly half of the participants were actively involved in the Mountain View Mayors Youth Conference, several assisted in the Thanksgiving Food Bank Program, and some Dreams & Futures alumni became part of YMCA-sponsored basketball teams.
4. How is the program financed?
The first year of the Dreams & Futures program was completely funded by community donations and volunteers, including 25 Mountain View police officers who donated their off-duty time to ensure the programís success. The only paid staff member was the gang officer, who spent the equivalent of 160 hours of staff time in program development and implementation. In its second year, Dreams & Futures received $13,000 in Title 7 funding from the two school districts and $9,000 from the City of Mountain View, and the program was expanded from 45 students to over 70. As the program has progressed and community recognition has increased, enough donations have been received to fully fund the third year of the program without relying on school or city funding.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
Over forty local businesses and community-based organizations donate funds, products, lunches and time to the program. Local restaurants and Price Costco donated over seven hundred lunches for the children during the summer program. Donated sports equipment enabled officers to put either a brand new basketball or new soccer ball in each childís hands at the end of the summer program. In addition, for the past two years, each child has been provided with a backpack filled with school supplies for the next school year.
Foothill College provided an instructor and facilities for the academic component, college souvenir shirts for the children as well as a bus and part-time driver during the first year of the program. The Mountain View and Whisman School districts assist with the recruitment, educational component, and transportation of the children to the field trips, and Mountain View middle schools now provide instructors for the program. Finally, in the first year 25 Mountain View police officers and department personnel donated time in their off-duty hours to assist as coaches for sports camps, instructors for some of the academic components, and in the daily operation of the program. In years two and three, over 40 police officer volunteered off-duty time to become coaches, chaperons for field trips and mentors. Community support in both financial and volunteer support for the program has been outstanding.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.