New Resources on Sustaining and Funding Local Gang Prevention Efforts

June 11, 2012

by Tim Mudd

NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency have developed two new resources that draw upon the experience of the California Cities Gang Prevention Network, a 13-city initiative launched in 2007 to identify strategies for reducing gang violence and victimization.

"Promising Developments for Sustainability of Local Efforts" offers a snapshot of promising strategies for sustaining local youth and gang violence prevention efforts in Salinas, Sacramento, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Los Angeles. "Case Studies and Analysis of Local Funding Strategies" explores how Oakland, Salinas and Santa Rosa have braided together a range of federal, state, local and private funding streams to underwrite their comprehensive gang prevention strategies.

Based on evidence generated from peer learning and sharing among the network's participating cities, both publications highlight local efforts to produce stronger and more lasting reductions in violence through comprehensive approaches that balance prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies. 

Focusing on Sustainability

In the five cities profiled for their work to sustain violence reduction strategies, municipal leaders are changing how they do business and focusing more deeply on prevention strategies and regional collaboration.

For example, San José has stepped up its involvement in reentry and strengthened its collaboration with the county to prepare for the realignment of criminal justice responsibilities among state and county governments in California. Los Angeles is shifting toward a family focus, allowing the city to direct and evaluate its comprehensive services in a consistent manner. Salinas is changing policing practices in one high-violence neighborhood to build trust between law enforcement and the community. Santa Rosa is regionalizing its effort, knowing that gangs do not respect city boundaries. 

In Sacramento, the city's strategic plan for gang prevention focuses on broad partnerships to more efficiently promote early literacy as a prevention tool against future risks of gang involvement.  "We don't get anything done these days unless we have collaboration, coordination and partnership," said Sacramento Police Department Lieutenant Kathy Lester.  

Developing Creative Funding Strategies

In the context of budget cutbacks and layoffs, the three cities profiled for their funding strategies have utilized a range of funding streams to maintain gang prevention as a priority. Cities rarely have access to a single funding source they can use to support implementation of a comprehensive plan, necessitating the use of multiple funding sources to pursue their strategies. 

In order to implement its Strategic Plan to Prevent Youth Gang Violence, the City of Oakland and its key partners in Alameda County currently manage a complex portfolio of grants alongside two large-scale, dedicated funding streams focused on prevention and intervention. Salinas/Monterey County supports the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace (CASP) with $1.7 million in annual grant funding and an anchor general fund allocation by the Salinas City Council. To implement its strategic work plan, Santa Rosa has drawn upon several funding sources, including newly raised local tax funds and several state grants.

The report finds, however, that reliance on multiple funding streams may skew strategies, as availability of certain funding produces a de facto approach that may not be fully responsive to long-term needs. With this in mind, the network analysis yields three main recommendations:

1.    The local experience of single-source or coordinated funding should be replicated at the state and federal levels;
2.    Funders need to reach agreement on common output and outcome measures for grantees to track; and
3.    Federal and state policymakers should remove barriers in the interim to maximize local flexibility in braiding and blending funds.

Details: To download these resources, visit the Violence Prevention page on our website.  The California Cities Gang Prevention Network website includes additional municipal action guides on topics such as prevention, evaluation, street outreach and reentry services, as well as the network's toolkit on Preventing Gang Violence and Building Communities where Young People Thrive. The California Cities Gang Prevention Network is funded by the California Endowment and the California Wellness Foundation.