Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $400,000)
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC-Chicago; 501 c3), the grant writing organization, offers services and promotes culture. Our project site is Maunabo, Puerto Rico, at WAVES Ahead (501 c3, headquartered in San Juan), the subgrantee. WAVES offers services to the LGBTQ+ community on the island, particularly to victims of violent crime and high-risk older trans persons.Both organizations serve Latinx communitites.
Due to an explosive rise in hate crimes in Puerto Rico (2018-present; 2020+, crisis stage), WAVES needs to expand community relations, allies, and public education in eastern coast municipalities where widespread fundamentalism creates a challenge to combatting LGBTQ+ hate speech/crimes. This grant program initiates community-building, preventative ground work to expand WAVES; hate crime outreach in support of their health and housing initiatives. We collaboratively identified Restorative circles as a safe practice for dialogue at meetings, building relationships among participants and allowing for difficult conversations among client and outreach stakeholders. To widen ally numbers, our Restorative Justice Family Conferences pilot program needs surveys and evaluations to be planned in the first two quarters. The proven effectiveness of Restorative Justice principles and practices increases dialogues in safe places, frequency of difficult conversations, and building support systems. Trainings (32-hour, industry standard, with known, experienced consultants) include WAVES staff in Maunabo and allies in Humacao and Yabucoa. Family conferences build clients; allies among their family members and comprise a pilot program.
A multi-disciplinary team currently includes health, housing, case manager, and municipal members to be enhanced during the first six months of the grant period. The project depends on engaging a Lead Site Coordinator (experienced in case management), who can head up all team efforts and all grant requirements. Four Community Peer Leaders are sought to deepen program presence and expand outreach.
By increasing meetings and being present in more municipalities, prevention is built collectively. In particular, community policing can aid in the prevention of hate crimes; outreach to five community police officers funded in 2021 by CHP in Yaboucoa will precede offering COPS free, introductory webinars to Humacao and Maunabo forces.
Our program develops public education messaging to equip Community Peer Leaders to promote: public safety, victim support systems, and identify volatile sites to underinformed communities--including loudspeaker truck engagements and AM radio PSAs. Quarterly assessment of public education efforts reveal methods and community outreach needing improvement.