Program: Prejudice Awareness Summits (In Conjunction with the Jewish Women International)
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
Concerned about the growth of racism and prejudice in Houston, and more specifically, the impact such prejudices have on young people, the Jewish Women International developed and implemented the Prejudice Awareness Summit (PAS) for eighth-graders in 1991. The PAS gives students an opportunity to have a positive interactive experience with peers of widely diverse ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds.
2. When was the program created and why?
The Houston Police Department's Community Outreach Division (COD) was asked to provide support and technical assistance to the Prejudice Awareness Summit in 1993. COD staff trains 15-20 police officers to present a cultural sensitivity exercise to the students. The police department's participation in the PAS aids in attacking prejudice and stereotyping on several levels, considering the frequent animosity which exists between police officers and youth.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The effectiveness of HPD's participation in the Prejudice Awareness Summit is documented each year by evaluations completed by the student participants, who express appreciation and hero worship for the officers after experiencing the sensitivity training.
4. How is the program financed?
Financial responsibility for the program is minimal for the police department. Personnel resources are the major contribution.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The largest school district in the Houston area, plus several private schools, together provide student participants from approximately forty-one middle schools, with each school sending eight students. Another district provides students from seven middle schools, with each school sending twenty-five students. Additionally, teachers, school counselors,etc. also participate in the sensitivity exercises.
6. What are the major lessons learned that would be helpful for others trying to implement a similar program?
The major lessons learned from this program are: Police departments and other social service agencies working together provide a more comprehensive approach to addressing problems directly relating to racially motivated crimes.
7. What specific advice do you have for mayors interested in replicating a program such as yours?
Be proactive as well as receptive to forming partnerships with other agencies to create programs that will help facilitate ethnic and cultural tolerance and respect.For more information, please contact:
Yvette Chargois, Assistant Director
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352