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Safety Net Works Initiative: Examining the Role of the Community Coalition in Strengthening Neighborhoods

NCJ Number
Adriana Perez; Lisa Braude, Ph.D.; Mark Powers
Date Published
March 2011
30 pages
This report explains the premise of the community coalition model that guides the development of Safety Net Works (SNW), summarizes SNW's activities and services, and considers the extent to which the coalition approach used contributed to the goals of the initiative.
SNW is a State-sponsored initiative designed to promote collaboration among local community groups for the purposes of preventing youth violence and fostering youth development. Seventeen Illinois communities, including 12 in Chicago, were initially selected in 2008. Each neighborhood has a lead agency that coordinates a SNW coalition that provides direct services to at-risk individuals ages 10 to 24. The community coalition model upon which SNW is based was developed in the late 1980s in response to the crack cocaine epidemic. Community coalitions were created to provide infrastructure for supporting planning and services that addressed community concerns related to the crack cocaine epidemic. Community coalitions are used primarily to convene community leaders and partners, providing the leadership for a decisionmaking structure, role definitions, fiscal accountability, and training. Coalitions being together parents, teachers, police, prosecutors, health providers, faith-based organizations, business and civic leaders, elected officials, youth, and other concerned citizens. The coalition model assumes that by altering the structure, dynamic, and focus of community agencies, organizations, and residents, widespread incremental changes in behavior among large populations can be achieved. In the SNW, coalition sites are expected to convene a local coalition; identify a targeted community area; develop objectives, related priority action strategies, and outcome measures based on community-identified needs; identify the lead coordinating organization; and develop a line-item budget and detailed budget justification for the local SNW. A survey of coalition leaders found that most coalitions have built recognition and trust within their communities in addressing youth violence and youth-development. Examples of coalition activities are provided.