Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,444,850)
Change Matters Community Based Intervention & Prevention Initiative
The Change Matters Community Based Intervention and Prevention Initiative is desperately needed to address violence in the Waco community. Waco has seen a significant increase in violent crime and has a higher crime rate per capita than the State and National rate. This crime is concentrated in areas of the community whose citizens face additional hardships which place them at a higher risk of violent crime as both perpetrators and victims. Community based violence intervention programs have proven to be effective in reducing violent crime. There already exists a large group of community stakeholders who have indicated investment in this project and they represent a wide spectrum of providers that will assist in providing a comprehensive approach to this initiative. Stakeholders have asked Prosper Waco to lead the community in designing and implementing community violence intervention.
Primary intervention strategies will target the individual, family, school, and community levels. These strategies include trauma informed and culturally responsive services such as intensive case management, outreach, psychoeducation, counseling, mentoring and other supports as needed. Case managers will provide resource linkage and system navigation support, education, and outreach. They will collaborate with community stakeholders as well as the program’s violence interrupters. Violence interrupters are individuals with lived experience with gang involvement, and/or incarceration that will actively engage with community members to discourage gang involvement, retaliation, and provide redirection and support to reduce violent crime in Waco. They will serve as mentors and support for high-risk youth and young adults.
Counseling will be available for program participants as well as program staff due to the high incidence of burnout in these types of programs, specifically for the violence interrupters. I addition to these strategies, Waco would also like to create and implement a media campaign for anti-violence and anti-mental health stigma.
In addition to further establishing an active and dedicated team to address this key area, the Change Matters Initiative hopes to reduce the violent crime rate in Waco. However, it is expected that there will be other outcomes related to children, youth and young adults’ school behavior, academic success, peer and family relationships, and overall health and safety of the community that will also be positively impacted. Furthermore, the programming will prove to be effective and community stakeholders will invest in combining resources to sustain programming beyond the completion of the grant funding period.