Communities in Action is a collective impact project taking place in Southeast and Central Seattle based on the Communities That Care prevention system. It involves individuals coming together to bolster protective factors and reduce risk factors in order to promote healthy child development—leading to healthier families and communities. Our vision is that our communities are thriving because they support and build strong young people and families who are empowered, connected, educated, and have meaningful opportunities for generations to come.
Communities in Action includes key leaders in the community, a Board Leadership Workgroup and community board members who, based on Seattle Public Schools’ 2012 and 2014 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey data, identified three risk factors: 1) laws and norms favorable to drug use, 2) early initiation of anti-social behavior, and 3) academic failure; and three protective factors: 1) community opportunities for pro-social involvement, 2) family opportunities for pro-social involvement, and 3) family rewards for pro-social involvement. Communities in Action will focus on two critical issues:
- Mental health; and
- Violence and aggression
Following the selection of these priorities, the Program Assessment & Evaluation Workgroup completed an assessment of the youth-development and prevention programs that addressed these priorities for children ages 0-11 and youth ages 12-18 in Southeast and Central Seattle. Community board members drafted community-level outcomes to: 1) help define the desired changes for the Seattle community and; 2) to measure the progress toward those outcomes. Recognizing that more than 39,000 households live in Southeast and Central Seattle, Communities in Action’s community board created four regional clusters in which to target its work: 1) Rainier Beach, 2) Cleveland, 3) Franklin, and 4) Garfield. Our clusters are centered-around the four high schools in Southeast and Central Seattle and named in the order of need.
While exploring strategic collaborations throughout Seattle and King County, graduate students—under the guidance and supervision of University of Washington (UW) School of Social Work faculty and practitioners—helped community board members select preliminary programs, practices, and policies focused on promoting the Social Development Strategy.
The following systems-change strategies were selected by Communities in Action to help facilitate the implementation of the selected programs and to address gaps, issues and barriers in the community:
- Expand the reach of parenting, youth development, and pre-kindergarten evidence-based prevention programs.
- Provide technical assistance for school-based evidence-based programs related to our priorities.
- Support the development of evaluation systems for community prevention programs.
- Serve as a partner for agencies addressing our priority risk factors and protective factors.
To do this work:
- Community agencies will incorporate the Social Development Strategy, collaborate and share resources in this effort.
- Funding is needed for the expansion of tested and effective programs, practices, and policies.