City Wide Initiatives
Since it was established in 1995, the Crozer Wellness Center has earned a reputation in the community and region for operating high-quality youth development programs with solid outcomes. As a result we have been given the responsibility for leading two large, citywide initiatives in Chester: the Chester Youth Collaborative and Chester Drug Free Communities.
Chester Youth Collaborative
The Chester Youth Collaborative (CYC) was established in December, 2004 with support from Philadelphia’s William Penn Foundation. The goals of the initiative are:
- To increase the capacity of youth serving organizations
- To increase the availability of high-quality youth development programs for youth in Chester
- To support youth in becoming healthy, productive members of society
The Collaborative is a citywide network consisting of organizations operating out-of-school programs for Chester youth ages 12-22, youth ages 12-22 themselves (see Out-of-School Programs: Chester Youth Council, above), parents and community residents, and representatives of anchor institutions in Chester. Each of these groups works on specific activities to support the goals of the CYC. In the first 3 years goals were related to:
- Establishing the network as well as its infrastructure and communications
- Coordinating and launching a web-based data system among youth serving organizations in CYC
- Establishing a mechanism through which to provide training and coaching to youth serving organizations to increase scores on assessments
- Increasing the number of Chester youth participating in programs offered by CYC member organizations
- Increasing the number of youth involved in positions of influence among CYC member organizations and throughout the city.
Based on the strength of the initiative, Chester City Council passed a resolution establishing the CYC as the official youth development resource for the city. In recognition of Crozer Wellness Center’s success as the lead organization for the CYC, William Penn Foundation awarded a second 3-year grant in spring 2008. During this current phase the focus of the Collaborative’s work will be on sustaining the work already done as well as creating youth policy recommendations for the City of Chester, creating a set of common standards through which to assess program quality of youth serving organizations, creating a sustainability plan for the CYC and an investment strategy for out-of-school programs in Chester, and increasing the ability of the network as a whole to collect and use data for planning and continuous quality improvement.
Chester Drug Free Communities
Chester Drug Free Communities (CDFC) initiative was launched in Spring 2009. The CDFC project operates as a special project under the Chester Youth Collaborative (see above).
The goals of the program are:
- To establish and strengthen collaboration among the Chester community, public & private nonprofit agencies, and local government supporting efforts of community coalitions to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth.
- To reduce substance abuse among youth and, over time, among adults by addressing the factors in the Chester community that increase risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize its risk.
CDFC partners represent a wide range of stakeholder groups: youth, parents, businesses, media, schools, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, faith-based and fraternal organizations, civic groups, health care entities, and government offices concerned with substance abuse.
CDFC partners work with staff toward goals via efforts in four key areas:
- Altering youth perceptions of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) norms, particularly norms of peer use and norms of family approval
- Increasing parental awareness of and access to programs targeting ATOD risk and protective factors
- Impacting city policy related to sale of tobacco products & drug paraphernalia
- Impacting city policy related to assessment and rating of youth development programs
More than 60 Chester residents and representatives of community groups have partnered with CDFC in its prevention efforts. Crozer-Keystone Health System received special commendation from the federal program officer assigned to this project, who noted that only a fraction of the 700+ current CDFC grantees in the nation are health systems and recognized the value of having health systems leading substance abuse efforts in communities.