Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $22,000)
The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program is a life-skills competency program designed to provide students with the skills they need to avoid gang pressure and youth violence. G.R.E.A.T.'s violence prevention curricula help students develop values and practice behaviors that will help them avoid destructive activities. G.R.E.A.T. program staff coordinate project activities with federal, regional, state, and local agencies, as well as individuals from community and civic groups. The goal of the program is to train criminal justice professionals to deliver a school-based curriculum that teaches life-skills competencies, gang awareness, and violence-avoidance techniques.
The City of Buffalo, through the Buffalo Police Department (BPD), will use the grant funds to offer the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum to 5th and 6th grade students, exposing them to conflict resolution, decision-making, responsibility and accountability, citizenship, cultural awareness, and sensitivity. The two school resource officers who teach G.R.E.A.T. will target students in schools that have been identified as high-risk by both police and the school district. The G.R.E.A.T. presentations will be scheduled throughout the school's academic year. While BPD plans to implement both the elementary and middle school components, they will focus their attention on the 5th grade classes. The BPD's goal this year is to reach 600 children in the elementary and middle schools at eight schools. The two school resource officers will teach three days per week while the remaining two days will be spent preparing lessons and interacting with these children outside the classroom. While in the schools, officers plan to network with the 7th and 8th graders who are not receiving the formal G.R.E.A.T. classroom instruction. The goal is to promote positive interactions between police and students that will foster improved student achievement, afford a safe and orderly school environment, and promote opportunities for student leadership. The BPD will also work with school administrators to curb gang violence and reduce middle school suspension rates. The G.R.E.A.T. program will partner with the City's Weed and Seed initiative, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Police Athletic League, and community-based organizations.
During the summer months, school resource officers will present the G.R.E.A.T. summer component curriculum to 150 high-risk youths attending summer camps on Buffalo's east and west sides: the Crucial Center, a Weed and Seed Safe Haven on East Side, and at the West Side Community Center. After the G.R.E.A.T.'s afternoon sessions, officers will set up a Safe Child session, where parents or legal guardians are presented with a card that includes their child's vital information: date of birth, gender, height, weight, eye color, along with a photograph and fingerprints of both index fingers. This provides BPD with an opportunity for officers to engage parents, guardians, and caregivers in a discussion about the G.R.E.A.T. lessons their child was just presented in an effort to encourage open communication and dialogue.