CITY OF KALAMAZOO, MI
Mayor Robert B. Jones

COMMUNITIES THAT CARE

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

The Communities That Care (CTC) Initiative is administered in Kalamazoo through the Division of Recreation, Leisure and Cultural Services. Our community has identified a Triple A response: "Awareness, Accessibility and Availability." This strategy includes the following:

Awareness: ensuring awareness of youth, their parents and the community programs which already exist in the community which might be of interest; and, creating better understanding in the community of the need for violence prevention and the range of approaches available. This is accomplished in part through the Kalamazoo Coalition for Youth Violence Prevention begun in 1993.

Accessibility: enhancing transportation of youth to and from existing programs and new programs developed through this initiative (i.e., leasing buses and mini-vans where necessary).

Availability: ensuring that youthsí needs for recreational, cultural and leisure-time programs are met either by enlarging existing programs provided by the City or by other organizations and agencies; or by developing new programs in collaboration with organizations, agencies and the community. This involves the hiring of new staff where necessary.

The activities developed through this initiative are based on existing programs, projects and activities in our community. New activities represent an extension of the focus of the organizations and agencies involved. Below in outline form are the activities planned and accomplished in the two years of this project. They are part of a 3 - 5 year plan.

Objectives are to:

a) provide opportunity for meaningful activity as an alternative to delinquent behavior;
b) reach a larger population of youth;
c) focus specifically on young adolescents aged 12 - 15; and
d) offer information about youth violence and conflict resolution, gang prevention and substance abuse prevention.

Activities:

  • Development of an awareness plan for community-based recreational activities
  • Development of an awareness plan for youth violence prevention throughout the community
  • In collaboration with community-based agencies and organizations, Recreation provides after-school programs 4 days per week in the three middle schools (or with middle school-aged children in other venues).
  • Recreation also runs programs from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at their Eastside Recreation Center. These are games and sports, arts, and tutorial/mentoring. In addition to paid staff, volunteers, parents, and staff of other agencies are involved.
  • Recreation also provides transportation for youth to and from existing community- based programs such as the Junior Symphony program. Youth congregate at a central location such as the Boys & Girls Club which supervises them while waiting for the bus and after they are dropped off back in the neighborhoods.
  • Recreation provides co-staffing and transportation to community-based programs and agencies such as Hispanic American Council to enhance participation in their after-school and evening programs.
  • Recreation sponsors multi-cultural programs in the arts including "More Alike Than Different" which highlight ways in which youth can come together.
  • The Youth Advisory Council is a group of youth (mostly grades 7 - 10) who advise the Division of Recreation on programs. The Council also helps plan and implement the annual Youth Leadership Conference and the "Summer Jam."

2. When was the program created and why?

After School Recreation programs for youth have been part of the Division of Recreation, Leisure & Cultural Services mission since the beginning of the Division in the City. Programs have changed to meet newly identified needs and interests. Programs are meant to foster life-long recreational skills and provide enjoyable and meaningful activities. Communities That Care (CTC) provides a philosophical and research-based framework for the identification of risk factors in the community which make some youth more likely to engage in anti-social and delinquent activities. CTC provides funding to identify existing programs, expand or augment those programs where desirable and to create new programs if they are needed. CTC has allowed the City of Kalamazoo to provide focused programs for our most under-served youth population -- middle school-aged youth.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

The Communities That Care (CTC), Title V initiative collaborates with Western Michigan Universityís Department of Sociology to provide both normative and formative assessment of effectiveness based on the risk factors identified as most urgent in our community. Program effectiveness is measured in two ways: a) consumer satisfaction which is indicated by the number of participants in each program, their continuous involvement in the program, and their involvement in other programs; and b) the observations of the parents, teachers, and group leaders as to the involvement and participation of the youth. Program evaluators blend the evaluation of this CTC initiative with evaluations of other initiatives and programs for youth throughout the metropolitan area. This gives the CTC evaluation a richer resource for both comparison of effectiveness, and information about best practices of other programs and initiatives.

4. How is the program financed?

The City of Kalamazoo receives funding for Communities That Care (CTC) from Title V, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Originally received in April, 1996, that funding has been renewed twice. Currently the total budget is $154,132 with the local match of $51,377 coming from the Cityís General Fund.

5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?

Every Recreation program for youth is developed and implemented in coordination, collaboration and/or consultation with youth, parents, Public Schools, community agencies, and absolutely anyone else who expresses an opinion or interest. Specific programs may be housed in non-City facilities such as Public Schools, low-income housing centers, youth serving agencies, camps, or businesses.

6. What are the major lessons learned from the program?

a) the programs that are most successful in terms of participation, learning, and other objectives are the ones which include youth themselves in the planning and implementation;

b) programs must respond to the needs of the specific population;

c) transportation of youth is a major consideration;

d) trained and caring staff is a must;

e) parent/family involvement enhances ANY program;

f) donít start a new program if one already exists in the community that can be enhanced or extended;

g) donít start a new program from "soft" funding unless you have a good idea of how it can be continued beyond the life of the existing funding;

h) prevention takes a long time and requires a good institutional memory.

7. Contact person:

Lois Jackson, Director Division of Recreation, Leisure & Cultural Services 234 West Cedar St. Kalamazoo, MI 49007 (616) 337-8191 FAX: (616) 337-8922

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