1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The program emphasizes inter-agency coordination of law enforcement, community policing, juvenile justice; along with the following community based organizations, Tri-City Community Mental Health Center, Renaissance Development Corporation, Harbor Area CDC (Young Entrepreneurs Program) and the East Chicago Parks and Recreation Department. A site has been established at a nearby recreation center in the Weed & Seed target area. This site is known as the program’s "Safe Haven" center where youth and other residents can access needed services, develop relationships, find opportunities to be productive and successful; along with providing after school activities, encouraging parental involvement , substance abuse and teen pregnancy counseling. This program also targets at-risk youth with low educational achievement by providing tutoring services, counseling and gang and drug awareness programs. The program starts right after school (3:00 p.m.) and continues until 8:00 p.m. The program has five components that operate simultaneously during working hours providing a vast array of opportunities for youth to interact and benefit from the program. The five components are as follows:
A. Renaissance Development Corporation’s Self-Awareness Program where young men have the opportunity to search deep within themselves for answer’s to life’s truths. The program, which accommodates 25 to 30 participants, provides confidence building exercises which help build good self-esteem and self worth. The meetings run for 24 weeks, two nights a week and for 2 hours each session. Meetings consist but are not limited to the following:
1. Educational Period - Discussing topics that destroy communities and families.
2. Self-Awareness - Discussing issues affecting their personal lives and group brainstorming for potential solutions.
3. Mentor Participation - Providing relationships for each participant for support in problem solving. In addition, the adult mentoring program has been expanding providing the opportunity for positive male role models from the community to assist with youth homework, sports and field trips.
B. Tri-City Community Mental Health Center (TCCMHC) had been open in the City of East Chicago since 1978. The activities of the center include a full array of mental health and substance abuse programming, including inpatient care and residential care, day treatment, and substance abuse prevention services. TCCMHC’s primary goal with this program is to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and promote healthy life choices for youth. The objective that will allow them to achieve the goal of the program is as follows:
1. Work on creating a positive self image for participants
2. Educate youth regarding risks associated with using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
3. Teach youth creative, non-violent methods for conflict resolution
These goals are provided withing the framework of recreational activities designed to keep the youth involved and participating. The program operates every day from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. and will be staffed by one 30/hour a week youth service worker and one half-time assistant. The overall program will be operated under the supervision of the Tri-City Coordinator of Youth Prevention Services.
C. The Young Entrepreneurs Program provides training, mentoring and income to young students in the community to increase their desires to become productive citizens and to produce their own income. The program will provide much needed home rehabilitation and up keep services for the community and give the students work experience, entrepreneur and other like experience to aid them in becoming productive citizens. The training of the youth will include the following:
1. Fundamentals of entrepreneurship
2. Developing a Business Plan
3. How to Market a Product or Service
5. Financial Procedures
6. Business Planning
7. Rap Sessions with Role Models
The program director will coordinate and provide program training, management assistance, financial overview and other follow-up activities necessary to ensure a successful program.
D. The Parks and Recreation Department has employed three regular part-time counselors assigned to the site four days a week from the hours of 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The youth are guided under a structured schedule, which begins with the first hour devoted to homework. Youth receive tutoring form youth counselors. This "Youth Tutoring Youth" program promotes mentoring, tutoring and peer leadership in a safe, structured environment, while providing activities that are both educational and fun.
E. The East Chicago Police Department has employed four police officers through the Weed & Seed Grant. Officers interact with the youth at the site providing mentoring, assistance, guidance and gang and drug awareness programs. Officers serve as role models during the hours of the center’s operation, and then return to their primary duties of patrolling this high crime area. The added number of officers has curtailed violence and gang activity in the target area.
2. When was the program created and why?
The program was created in response to the high number of criminal activity among the youth in the target area. Implemented August 1, 1998.
3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?
Although the program has only been in existence for one month, resident comments have been favorable. Future measuring will be conducted in the form of crime statistics, surveys/questionnaires focusing on the effectiveness of the programs, knowledge of the programs and future suggestions. Focus groups will also be conducted in a further attempt to tailor this program to meet the needs of it recipients.
4. How is the program financed?
The program, in part, is financed through the Weed & Seed Grant through the COPS Office of the U.S. Department of Justice that was acquired by the efforts of the East Chicago Police Department and the Department of Business Development and Planning. The City of East Chicago has provided matching funds.
5. How is this community involved in the program, if at all?
Most of the program’s paid workers and volunteers are from the target area community serving as role models, tutors, counselors, teachers and mentors.
6. What are the major lessons learned from this program?
Partnerships with local government, community based social organizations and residents is vital to the success in achieving the goals of the program.
7. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.