Best Practices '98 - Denver, Colorado (5/4/98)
Denver's Safe City Initiative Comprehensively Combats Youth Violence
May 4, 1998
Safe City Office
The City of Denver's Safe City Initiative (SCI) develops and promotes community solutions that address the root causes of violence to and by youth. The SCI Office is responsible for administering the Mayor's youth job program and the city's curfew program, coordinating all of the city's efforts with regard to youth development, and managing an annual distribution of $1 million in city funds to community groups which serve youth. The office has a 15-member staff and an operating budget of $1.7 million.
The Safe City Office sponsors monthly meetings attended by more than 100 people, including youth. These forums serve to educate neighborhood leaders and community based organizations about the importance of pulling together with youth in identifying and supporting effective youth programs, particularly as federal practices change and monies are reduced.
SCI hired approximately 300 fourteen to eighteen year olds in 1997 and about five percent of them are working year round. Youth need only be willing to work and attend Denver public schools to qualify for this program. More than 40 percent of the youths hired in 1996 were requested to return to work in 1997. In addition, more than 35 percent of the youths exhibited significant positive improvement in their grades and behavior in school.
In 1996 SCI established two "Safe Nite" sites in neighborhoods in northeast and northwest Denver. Police officers detain youth cited for curfew violations every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Officers call parents to pick their children up and specialists are brought in to begin counseling the affected families. In 1997 Safe Nite realized a 30.1 percent decrease in the number of reported offenses during the curfew program hours. In addition, there was a
46 percent decrease in the number of juvenile suspects and a 40.1 percent decrease in the number of victims where the suspect was a juvenile.
SCI also provides year-round leadership training to 40 youths in the Youth Power Leadership Team (YPLT). The program is a collaboration between SCI, "Just Say No" International, Inc., the Mayor and the Denver City Council. YPLT combines employment, community service and peer centered activities. Participants work 6 hours per week in various city, community or neighborhood offices. In addition, they spend 2 hours per week on planing and implementing community service or peer tutoring/mentoring projects. In 1997, YPLT was honored as the Outstanding Youth Group by Colorado's National Philanthropy Day Awards Selection Committee.
After School and Summer Enrichment
SCI works in collaboration with the City's Parks and Recreation Department, the public schools and the local business community to provide youth with educational and recreational opportunities as alternatives to violence. SCI currently provides after school programs in 26 Denver public schools. Programs are offered to elementary and middle school youth two to four days a week. The Parks and Recreation Department is recruiting personnel to fill 100 new positions.
More than 800 youths attended the 1997 Youth Summit, up from 700 in 1996. Professionals from around the City joined the youths in conducting anti-violence workshops. The youths produced events during the summer of 1997 that provided positive alternatives for 12-18 year olds between 7 p.m. and curfew. More than 2,500 youths and adults attended these events.
SCI, in collaboration with Fresh Start, the Denver Municipal Court, and the Sheriff's Work Program, is sponsoring a youth intervention program to develop pro-social attitudes and neighborhood attachment among youth who have committed property offenses, including graffiti.
SCI, as a co-sponsor of the Denver Beacons Project, will help administer a $1 million grant from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. The Beacons Project links community-based youth organizations with the schools to increase the number of activities available to youth. The goal is to assist youth to achieve academic success and to develop the personal skills necessary to become self-supporting adults, successful parents and active members of the community. Other co-sponsors of the Beacons Project include the Governor's Community Partnership Office, Denver public schools, and local community-based organizations and funders.
For more information, contact Jim Martinez, Assistant to the Mayor, (303) 640-2335.