Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Building Community between Police and Youth recap

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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Building Community between Police and Youth recap

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnershipstools for working with school resource officers, and a Lights On Afterschool event that forged a new relationship with law enforcement. 

In the past year we have been developing our “Tools to Build On” webinar series to help equip afterschool and summer providers with resources for supporting students through the complex issues that have been facing our country and impacting youth. Thus far, the series has highlighted topics such as supporting immigrant students and their families,  understanding and responding to incidents of bias, and addressing tough conversations with students in a safe space. As part of this series, we also spoke with afterschool and police professionals to discuss how communities can come together through afterschool and police partnerships.

Afterschool programs and police keep the communities they serve safe. Building off of this mutual goal, partnership between afterschool programs and law enforcement can strengthen the efforts of programs, departments, and their communities. This is especially important given recent headlines surrounding tensions between police and communities of color. To discuss how afterschool programs and law enforcement can work together, we spoke with Jacalyn Swink, a lead teacher in Iowa’s Burlington Community School District; Major Darren Grimshaw from the Burlington Police Department; and Marcel Braithwaite, director of Community Engagement from the New York City Police Athletic League (PAL). Our speakers shared ways to approach partnerships with local law enforcement and successes that they have had in their programs with these partnerships. Here’s what we talked about:

Why would an afterschool program would want to partner with law enforcement?

Provides opportunities to build trust and for youth mentorship. Partnerships with law enforcement officers can help to establish positive relationships between students in the afterschool program and law enforcement, as well as provide valuable mentorship to youth. Afterschool programs partnering with law enforcement allows officers and youth to interact on a regular basis and can help them develop meaningful relationships in a positive setting.

Contributes volunteers and programming. Adding partners to your program can increase your volunteers, and provide new ideas for programming. Your local police department may already have ideas for programming and be able to provide the volunteers to make it happen.

Exposes students to new career pathways. Youth often forget that law enforcement is a profession. Partnering with law enforcement can help show youth that being a police officer, and other law enforcement work, could be an obtainable option for their futures.

Strengthens the community at large. Starting with youth can be a great way to improve or build relationships between communities and local law enforcement. In Burlington, the police department’s partnership with pieces help improve relationships between students and police stationed in the school. Major Grimshaw discussed that since partnering students have started stopping him on the street to say hello, and that most of the officers volunteering with the program have developed strong relationships with the youth as well.

As a program, how do you build a partnership with your local law enforcement?

Think broadly. Law enforcement extends beyond your local police department. Keep an open mind to all law enforcement agencies, like the FBI, sheriff’s office, and transit authority police, as potential partners. From there, calling your local agency can be a great first connection. However, reaching out to parents and community members for contacts can establish a personal connection, and lead to partnership faster.

Start small. Forming a quality partnership takes time, and sometimes some convincing before everyone is on board. Inviting police to an open house or community event can be a great first step.

Sell your program. Be prepared to share why your program is so great. Having testimonials, evaluations, videos, and more can help a new partner see why your program is important to the community, and why they should be involved.

Reach out with specific ideas. Start by making a list of asks and ideas for partnership, then pick one as a jumping off point. Providing law enforcement partners with a specific ask when reaching out for the first time can make partnership on their end easier. Also, take into consideration suggestions from the local department on programming ideas. They know best how to get their officers interested and invested in volunteering. Coordinating a sports game, chess tournament, cooking event, or open house can be a great ways to start your partnership.

Follow up. Keep the conversation alive. Reach out after your first partnership to discuss other ways to collaborate in the future.

Once started, how do you maintain a relationship with law enforcement?

Look for opportunities to give back. Asking about ways your program can support your partner keeps partners engaged and strengthen the partnership overall. 

Keep a consistent schedule. Like any job, keeping a regular volunteering schedule will make police participation easier.

Establish a tradition. Having an annual tradition with your police department and youth can be a great way to showcase your program to stakeholders and keep partners invested.

Involve your law enforcement partner in program planning and design. Making sure your law enforcement partner has a say in programming can help increase volunteerism and engagement.

Overall, partnership with law enforcement can benefit communities, but what it really comes down to is the students. Braithwaite ended by sharing a story about a student in his program. This student had found himself frequently in trouble and had a complicated relationship with the local law enforcement. Through his participation in the PAL basketball and dialogue programs over several years he was able to mend his relationship with law enforcement and improved his relationship with his community. Not only did he see a lot of personal growth, he continued through the program and ultimately became a staff member.

Now that you have the tools, try them out! This year for Lights On Afterschool, consider reaching out to local law enforcement to get your partnership started. Each year more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events are held around the country for afterschool programs to show their communities the importance of the work they do. Lights On Afterschool can be a great way to start communicating with potential partners and jumpstart a deeper partnership for the future.

Want more? Watch the full webinar in our archives, and stay tuned for more webinars from our “Tools to Build On” series.

Quality out-of-school time programs help keep youth on track for success

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We asked, and you answered.

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New resources: Implementing and expanding afterschool programs for principals

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BY: Leah Silverberg      03/19/18

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BY: Alexis Steines      03/01/18

"I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before"

By Maya Irvine.  Maya is a freshman at Camdenton High School and was named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador in the fall for the 2017-2018 school year. Maya has attended Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics program for the past six years. Her blog post highlights the science,...

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From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/16/18

Kansas programs show strength of law enforcement and afterschool partnerships

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BY: Arielle Kahn      06/19/18

Invest in kids for #ChildrensWeek2018 and beyond

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BY: Erik Peterson      06/13/18

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BY: Arielle Kahn      06/01/18

Have you thanked your library lately?

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BY: Faith Savaiano      03/15/18

Free eBook available: The Afterschool Guide to Building English Language Learners' Literacy

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/05/18

Youth-serving organizations can leverage a growing resource: volunteers age 50+

By Sarah McKinney, Content Marketing Producer at Encore.org’s Gen2Gen campaign.   Diana Amatucci volunteers after school and during the summers at her local Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville Virginia. A retired teacher, Amatucci knows that kids need more champions...

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Pro sports can connect kids to afterschool STEAM learning

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BY: Guest Blogger      09/29/17

Educators convene town hall against cuts to afterschool & summer

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BY: Ursula Helminski      06/22/17

Guest blog: Postcard project connects program providers with policymakers

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/13/17

Summer meals are vital for children, but meal participation continues to decrease

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BY: Erik Peterson      06/22/18

Positive female role models: 5 voices from healthy afterschool

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Guest blog: 4 key elements to fostering mental health & wellbeing

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HEPA success story: Uniting stakeholders is key to victory

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BY: Faith Savaiano      04/06/18

The need to enhance kids' access to water in and out of school

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BY: Guest Blogger      03/30/18

Afterschool programs can play a big role in childhood nutrition

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BY: Guest Blogger      03/23/18

Afterschool can help solve a national security crisis

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BY: Guest Blogger      03/12/18

Experts discuss afterschool's role in opioid abuse prevention

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BY: Arielle Kahn      03/02/18

The view from Ground Zero: Q&A on the opioid crisis

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/27/18

Guest blog: National Summer Learning Day is on July 12!

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/29/18

Guest blog: 4 key elements to fostering mental health & wellbeing

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BY: Guest Blogger      05/15/18

"I wanted to create something ... that shared the power and impact of my afterschool program"

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"I want to be a beacon"

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How afterschool can support school meals: 3 activities

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Youth-serving organizations can leverage a growing resource: volunteers age 50+

By Sarah McKinney, Content Marketing Producer at Encore.org’s Gen2Gen campaign.   Diana Amatucci volunteers after school and during the summers at her local Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville Virginia. A retired teacher, Amatucci knows that kids need more champions...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/24/17

Guest blog: Afterschool-law enforcement partnership gives justice-involved youth a new path

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BY: Guest Blogger      08/01/17

Guest blog: Closing the achievement gap for Latino kids

By Diego Uriburu, co-founder and executive director of Identity. By age 16, Elam had been out of school for two years. Although he’d dropped out of school the first time, he knew he needed to turn his life around and that the best way to do that was to complete his education. Going...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/19/17

Guest blog: Stop cuts to summer learning

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BY: Guest Blogger      07/12/17

Guest blog: Afterschool gave me hope of a future I'd never known

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BY: Guest Blogger      07/11/17

National partnership frames strategies for creative youth development

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BY: Erik Peterson      06/15/18

Afterschool and summer learning supporting cities nationwide

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BY: Leah Silverberg      05/29/18

The view from Ground Zero: Q&A on the opioid crisis

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/27/18

Introducing our inaugural class of Youth Afterschool Ambassadors

Through our Afterschool Ambassadors program, every year we recruit a cohort of program providers and advocates of special distinction and provide them with training, technical support, and modest funding to complete projects that raise the profile of afterschool in their communities. This year,...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      11/10/17

Youth-serving organizations can leverage a growing resource: volunteers age 50+

By Sarah McKinney, Content Marketing Producer at Encore.org’s Gen2Gen campaign.   Diana Amatucci volunteers after school and during the summers at her local Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville Virginia. A retired teacher, Amatucci knows that kids need more champions...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/24/17

Nominate a youth volunteer for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/13/17

Guest blog: Closing the achievement gap for Latino kids

By Diego Uriburu, co-founder and executive director of Identity. By age 16, Elam had been out of school for two years. Although he’d dropped out of school the first time, he knew he needed to turn his life around and that the best way to do that was to complete his education. Going...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/19/17

Guest blog: Afterschool gave me hope of a future I'd never known

By Aaron Short, assistant head of staff at 21st Cranston Community Learning Center Bain +2/Kidventure Afterschool Program. Aaron attended the Youth Session of the 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge and spoke to his members of Congress about the impact of afterschool on his...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/11/17

Guest blog: How one rural town is investing in Alaska's future workforce

By Thomas Azzarella, director of the Alaska Afterschool Network. This blog was originally published on the Alaska Afterschool Blog on June 6. Nearly two-thirds of Alaska’s cities, towns, and villages are accessible only by plane or boat, which makes having a strong aviation...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/19/17

Not The Onion: Horses, surfboards, and cyberattacks in afterschool

Despite a wealth of research showing the importance of afterschool and widespread popularity with parents, students, teachers and community leaders, programs have never been more threatened. This week the president decided to double down on his call to eliminate afterschool funding in his 2018...

BY: Jodi Grant      05/26/17

Kansas programs show strength of law enforcement and afterschool partnerships

This is a two-part blog series outlining Kansas’ commitment to establishing partnerships between law enforcement and afterschool programs. The previous post focused on the afterschool network and this post delves into specific programs. Rachel Willis, who I interviewed for...

BY: Arielle Kahn      06/19/18

Guest blog: 4 key elements to fostering mental health & wellbeing

By Sheila Savannah, director of mental health and wellbeing at Prevention Institute. Originally featured in a May 3 email, this blog was reposted with permission from the Prevention Institute.   May is Mental Health Month—an opportunity to take a fresh look at...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/15/18

The need to enhance kids' access to water in and out of school

By Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Director, Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. Did you know that 1 in 4 kids drink no water in a day? Latino kids drink less water than their white peers. They also are more likely to perceive tap water as unsafe, and drink more sugary drinks, our research...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/30/18

Afterschool can help solve a national security crisis

We have a looming national security emergency, and it may not be the one that first comes to mind. 71 percent of Americans between 17 and 24 years of age— or 24 million of the 34 million young people in our country—are ineligible to serve in the United States military. The...

BY: Arielle Kahn      03/16/18

Afterschool is perfectly situated to help: Q&A on the opioid crisis

By Nila Cobb. This is the second part of a two-part question-and-answer session with Nila Cobb, healthy lifestyles specialist and assistant director of the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network. You can read part one here. In the second part, Nila describes the challenges and...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/12/18

$1M from "Black Panther" proceeds to go to afterschool programs

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BY: Shaun Gray      03/07/18

The view from Ground Zero: Q&A on the opioid crisis

By Nila Cobb. Welcome to the first of a two-part question-and-answer session with Nila Cobb, healthy lifestyles specialist and assistant director of the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network. In the first part, Nila describes the earliest signs of the opioid crisis impacting her community...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/27/18

Former Ed Sec John B. King highlights educator superpower: We tell children they belong

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BY: Jillian Luchner      02/15/18

Guest blog: Conquering the high school transition with Road Map to Graduation

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/05/18

"I want to be a beacon"

By Kevin Hamilton, vice president for communications at the Student Conservation Association. Welcome to the first post in our new blog series about the vital role that out-of-school time programs play in the social, emotional, and character development that youth need to navigate a complex,...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/19/17

From afterschool to geophysicist

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/08/18

Webinar recap: Exploring the environment in afterschool

Earth Day 2018 has passed, but it is never too late to share an appreciation of our planet with environmental science education in your afterschool program. Teaching environmental science is a great way to help students develop core science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills —...

BY: Leah Silverberg      04/30/18

$1M from "Black Panther" proceeds to go to afterschool programs

Disney’s “Black Panther” not only gave boys and girls a few new heroes to look up to: it also gave them inspiration to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math. Now, Disney is helping those kids in real life by donating $1 million of the “Black...

BY: Shaun Gray      03/07/18

"I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before"

By Maya Irvine.  Maya is a freshman at Camdenton High School and was named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador in the fall for the 2017-2018 school year. Maya has attended Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics program for the past six years. Her blog post highlights the science,...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/23/18

From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

“If you’re passionate about anything, there really is no limit to what you can do,” says Lemond Brown, president and CEO of Swaliga Foundation. “That passion is contagious. People want to know ‘Well, why are they so passionate about that? How can I have that same...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/16/18

STEM funding opp: Enter the 2018 Possibility Grants sweepstakes

Make your lab a little more fab: enter the Siemens 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes! K-12 schools are eligible to enroll in the sweepstakes and vote daily for their school, from now until the deadline on April 27. Check out the possibilities with the #IDreamofSTEM hashtag. Grant Name: 2018...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/08/18

Promising practices: EVOLUTIONS prepares students for college and careers

Afterschool programs across the country are working with students to prepare them for future jobs. Of programs focusing on high school students, we see students getting real-world job experiences in afterschool, including paid internships, professional development training, practice building skills...

BY: Leah Silverberg      11/28/17

Pro sports can connect kids to afterschool STEAM learning

By Jesse Lovejoy, director of STEAM Education for the San Francisco 49ers and managing partner of EDU Academy. More information on 49ers STEAM programming is available here.  On its best days, informal and afterschool education is cool. It’s different. It lights fires. For many...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/29/17

Afterschool Spotlight: Michigan Engineering Zone

As the home of the American auto industry and birthplace of Motown, Detroit has always been a hub for American ingenuity and creativity. But in 2013, Detroit became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy after decades of economic. The city officially exited bankruptcy in...

BY: Marco Ornelas      09/18/17

Girls Who Code Clubs: Prepare girls in your community for the future

Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in tech, wants to work with you! Through their afterschool Clubs Program, 6th-12th grade girls use computer science to impact their community and join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models. Clubs can be hosted by many...

BY: Leah Silverberg      09/05/17