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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Building relationships and trust

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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Building relationships and trust

A photo of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League (@phillypal1947) via the Afterschool Alliance on Instagram

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the third installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. Through interviews with police officers and public service officials, this post focuses on how afterschool programs and law enforcement partnerships help build relationships and trust between officers and members of the community. For more information on this topic, check out our previous blogs on motivations for partnerships and on the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring.

Partnerships between law enforcement and afterschool are playing an important role in building relationships and trust between police officers and their communities. For example, at the OK Program in Santa Barbara, CA, most students’ interactions with officers prior to their involvement in the program were through late night police calls in response to family or neighborhood disturbances. This trend allowed distrust to grow between youth and officers in their community—until the OK Program provided a way for beneficial relationships to develop.

The Corona Police Department in California had a similar experience, so the department began to look for a way to reach out to young people and give them more positive interactions with law enforcement. Partnering with afterschool programs was a natural way to do this. These partnerships allow officers to interact with youth in their community on a regular basis and support the work providers are already doing to keep kids safe and supported.

In the fledgling stages of these partnerships, many officers were met with reluctance and distrust. Most children and families in the Santa Ana Police Athletic and Activity League were intimidated by interacting with uniformed law enforcement officers, and Sergeant Ron Edwards of San Diego described the first time students met officers at their program as being similar to a high school dance, “except instead of girls and boys on either side of the room, it was youth and law enforcement.” Yet through these partnerships, officers and youth were able to break down barriers and develop strong bonds.

Here are some stories highlighting how officers worked with programs to build relationships and trust:

  • The Massena, NY Police Department recently launched a program called “True Blue”, where uniformed police officers spend a minimum of 30 minutes each day interacting with youth, such as playing street hockey or basketball. They use daily interaction, because the more time youth and officers spend together the stronger their relationships become.
  • Chief Fowler of the Syracuse, NY Police Department has partnered with and led afterschool programs for over 20 years. In his co-ed basketball program for teens, student teams were coached by officers. The students taught officers about basketball, and officers worked with students on team building and sportsmanship.
  • In the Youth Advisory Group, a program started by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, all meetings are focused on team-building between sheriff deputies and youth. They eat, talk, and complete activities together in each session. They also bring the group together to talk about law enforcement and experiment with role playing, allowing both youth and law enforcement to better understand where the other is coming from.

As officers and youth continue to work together—doing homework, playing sports, or discussing community issues—the trust and understanding between them grows. “We see strong bonds develop between individual officers and the youth they work with,” Chief Fowler said, in reference to participants in the two Syracuse Police Community Centers.

Thanks to a similar program in Burlington, IA, Major Darren Grimshaw has seen a major shift in community-police relations. Young people are stopping to talk and joke around with officers driving by in their cruisers, and then sharing their positive experiences with their friends and family. Parents are reaching out to officers to thank them for their work and build relationships. Creating this new line of communication has led to a change in department philosophy. Officers focus more on increasing positive interactions with the community and have new strategies for building relationships. Experience has taught them that it works.

Stay tuned to the Afterschool Snack to find more stories like these that demonstrate the community benefits that result from afterschool and law enforcement working hand-in-hand.

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Photo: Courtesy of YMCA of Honolulu at Herton Branch By Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. This article originally was published as a Mott Perspectives piece on the Foundation’s website. It has been reposted here with permission. This is a...

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Philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett invest in a host of afterschool programs

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Afterschool community mourns passing of Rep. Don Young

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Giving a big #AmeriThanks to AmeriCorps VISTA members!

It’s AmeriCorps Week! Organizations around the country are taking this opportunity to acknowledge the work of national service members that participate in programs such as AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, Senior Corps, and National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). In that spirit, we want to...

BY: Alexis Steines      03/18/22

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BY: Maria Rizo      02/01/22

Mentorship "show[ed] me my self-worth... the value that I have as a human."

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BY: Tierra Easter      01/25/22

Understanding “comprehensive afterschool” in the American Rescue Plan

In the American Rescue Plan, funds are allocated specifically for “the implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing learning loss, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      01/21/22

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/20/22

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/11/22

👏 Meeting the crisis: Afterschool leaders rise to the challenge

As part of our campaign this holiday season to show our gratitude for afterschool professionals, we are sharing some of the extraordinary efforts undertaken by our Afterschool Ambassadors and their programs to support kids and families throughout the pandemic. We thank them, and the many...

BY: Matt Freeman      12/16/21

Afterschool supports LGBTQ students

By Tran Tonnu, marketing manager at School's Out Washington, and Janell Jordan, King County program manager. This article originally appeared on School's Out Washington's blog on June 17, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission. For LGBTQ folks, June...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/28/22

$1.8M awarded to middle school out-of-school time programs

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BY: Guest Blogger      04/21/22

Afterschool field creates resources to help support the mental health of young people

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BY: Christopher Echevarria      03/15/22

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BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Mentorship "show[ed] me my self-worth... the value that I have as a human."

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash The impact of afterschool and summer programs last well beyond a student’s formative years. The relationships that afterschool youth build with the adults in their programs often lead to academic success and future leadership opportunities. Mentored youth...

BY: Tierra Easter      01/25/22

Why afterschool programs need social and emotional learning now

This article was originally published on The Wallace Foundation blog on January 19, 2022. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, educators around the country are seeing an increasing need to support young people who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, fear, trauma, food insecurity or...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/24/22

Understanding “comprehensive afterschool” in the American Rescue Plan

In the American Rescue Plan, funds are allocated specifically for “the implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing learning loss, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      01/21/22

Celebrating Juneteenth in afterschool programs

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BY: Tierra Easter      06/17/22

Youth mental health is top of mind for voters

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You're invited: Help amplify youth voices in afterschool!

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/25/22

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BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Meet our 2022 Youth Afterschool Ambassadors

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      01/04/22

Ohio Afterschool Network is unleashing student creativity, and fostering pandemic recovery, through entrepreneurship

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BY: Guest Blogger      12/14/21

Afterschool programs can help young people access vaccines

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BY: Nicole Pettenati      12/06/21

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BY: Guest Blogger      10/29/21

US Dept. of Ed calls for afterschool & summer for all

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BY: Jodi Grant      07/14/22

The future of learning

Photo: Courtesy of YMCA of Honolulu at Herton Branch By Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. This article originally was published as a Mott Perspectives piece on the Foundation’s website. It has been reposted here with permission. This is a...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/21/22

$1.8M awarded to middle school out-of-school time programs

The New York Life Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance are pleased to announce the 2022 Aim High grant recipients. In its sixth year, the Aim High grant has provided a total of $7.95 million dollars to help fund afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs as they help middle school...

BY: Dan Gilbert      06/14/22

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BY: Alexis Steines      03/18/22

Celebrating Black History 365 with Howard University Television

By Keisha Nelson, Education and Outreach Manager WHUT- Howard University Television. Black History Month may only last 28 days, but opportunities for learning don’t end in February. There are many ways to celebrate the past and present contributions of Black people to U.S. history,...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/28/22

Slowing down while playing catch-up: The educator Catch-22!

By Carlos Santini, CEO of Mizzen by Mott. If you’re an educator, mentor, coach or administrative staff member working in education, you’re most likely hearing of or reading about priorities such as accelerated learning, learning recovery, and historic investments at the federal level...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/22/22

STEM and sports activities for afterschool this spring

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/17/22

Why afterschool programs need social and emotional learning now

This article was originally published on The Wallace Foundation blog on January 19, 2022. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, educators around the country are seeing an increasing need to support young people who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, fear, trauma, food insecurity or...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/24/22

Anti-discrimination Take Action guides are available for free from Nickelodeon!

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BY: Shaun Gray      01/18/22

How to make universal afterschool a reality in your state

By Holly Morehouse, Executive Director, Vermont Afterschool. Across the country, afterschool programs have been chronically underfunded for decades, and the unmet demand among families has reached an all-time high. In Vermont, more than 26,000 youth are waiting for an available program. This...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/11/22

Afterschool supports LGBTQ students

By Tran Tonnu, marketing manager at School's Out Washington, and Janell Jordan, King County program manager. This article originally appeared on School's Out Washington's blog on June 17, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission. For LGBTQ folks, June...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/28/22

Celebrating Juneteenth in afterschool programs

Image by William Adams from Pixabay Juneteenth National Independence Day also known as Freedom Day, or Jubilee day honors the emancipation of slaves in the United States. More than 150 years after its first celebration, the Juneteenth holiday provides an opportunity to learn and teach about the...

BY: Tierra Easter      06/17/22

$1.8M awarded to middle school out-of-school time programs

The New York Life Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance are pleased to announce the 2022 Aim High grant recipients. In its sixth year, the Aim High grant has provided a total of $7.95 million dollars to help fund afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs as they help middle school...

BY: Dan Gilbert      06/14/22

You're invited: Help amplify youth voices in afterschool!

Join us next week for Youth Voice Week! We want to hear from, and amplify, the perspectives and experiences of young people.  From Monday, March 28 to Friday, April 1, we will be sharing pieces by youth about their afterschool experiences, and what youth need after school. Afterschool...

BY: Maria Rizo      03/21/22

Celebrating Black History 365 with Howard University Television

By Keisha Nelson, Education and Outreach Manager WHUT- Howard University Television. Black History Month may only last 28 days, but opportunities for learning don’t end in February. There are many ways to celebrate the past and present contributions of Black people to U.S. history,...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/28/22

Tips for afterschool to support trans and gender non-conforming young people

Photo courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection. Thanks to a growing number of supports for transgender and nonbinary youth to feel safe within their school settings, afterschool programs have more resources than ever to ensure that every young person who enters their doors between the hours of...

BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Anti-discrimination Take Action guides are available for free from Nickelodeon!

Sooner or later, most adults will find themselves needing to discuss big topics with young hearts and minds. While many parents and educators are comfortable acting as role models and guiding young people through certain aspects of their lives, issues like anti-racism and combatting LGBTQ+...

BY: Shaun Gray      01/18/22

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BY: Tierra Easter      01/10/22

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/06/22

👏 Supporting learning: Afterschool leaders rise to the challenge

As part of our campaign this holiday season to show our gratitude for afterschool professionals, we are sharing some of the extraordinary efforts undertaken by our Afterschool Ambassadors and their programs to support kids and families throughout the pandemic. We thank them, and the many...

BY: Matt Freeman      12/17/21

Afterschool supports LGBTQ students

By Tran Tonnu, marketing manager at School's Out Washington, and Janell Jordan, King County program manager. This article originally appeared on School's Out Washington's blog on June 17, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission. For LGBTQ folks, June...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/28/22

Celebrating Juneteenth in afterschool programs

Image by William Adams from Pixabay Juneteenth National Independence Day also known as Freedom Day, or Jubilee day honors the emancipation of slaves in the United States. More than 150 years after its first celebration, the Juneteenth holiday provides an opportunity to learn and teach about the...

BY: Tierra Easter      06/17/22

Meet Kaiya Jones, Afterschool Youth Ambassador

Welcome to Youth Voice Week 2022! All during the week, we'll be amplifying the voices of our Youth Ambassadors, as they share their stories and speak about the impact that afterschool has had on their lives.  Kaiya Jones is a 15-year-old student from Howard County Library System Teen...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/01/22

Meet Zhonghui Zheng and Kyla Anderson, Afterschool Youth Ambassadors

Welcome to Youth Voice Week 2022! All during the week, we'll be amplifying the voices of our Youth Ambassadors, as they share their stories and speak about the impact that afterschool has had on their lives.  Zhonghui Zheng is a 17-year-old student at Global Kids Afterschool Program in...

BY: Christopher Echevarria      03/31/22

Meet Brock Brewer and Juliana Montell, Afterschool Youth Ambassadors

Welcome to Youth Voice Week 2022! All during the week, we'll be amplifying the voices of our Youth Ambassadors, as they share their stories and speak about the impact that afterschool has had on their lives.  Brock Brewer is a 16-year-old student at Youth and Family Link Afterschool...

BY: Leah Silverberg      03/30/22

Tips for afterschool to support trans and gender non-conforming young people

Photo courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection. Thanks to a growing number of supports for transgender and nonbinary youth to feel safe within their school settings, afterschool programs have more resources than ever to ensure that every young person who enters their doors between the hours of...

BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Mentorship "show[ed] me my self-worth... the value that I have as a human."

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash The impact of afterschool and summer programs last well beyond a student’s formative years. The relationships that afterschool youth build with the adults in their programs often lead to academic success and future leadership opportunities. Mentored youth...

BY: Tierra Easter      01/25/22

Afterschool as a teacher pathway

By Sam Piha, founder and co-director of Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation, both organizations dedicated to promoting the learning and healthy development of youth. Our national teacher shortage predated COVID-19, however there is growing evidence that suggests that the...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/20/22

Anti-discrimination Take Action guides are available for free from Nickelodeon!

Sooner or later, most adults will find themselves needing to discuss big topics with young hearts and minds. While many parents and educators are comfortable acting as role models and guiding young people through certain aspects of their lives, issues like anti-racism and combatting LGBTQ+...

BY: Shaun Gray      01/18/22

Racial equity: Learning for justice

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Sieb and nappy.co. By Dr. Jackie Thomspon. This blog post was originally published on the Utah Afterschool Network's blog on March 11, 2021. Langston Hughes, a great poet from the Harlem Renaissance, is one of my favorite poets. When I think about racial...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/06/22