June, 2010The W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas has awarded a $2.99 million grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas (BBBS) to create the Caruth Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Initiative . The W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation is a supporting organization of CFT created by W.W. Caruth, Jr. to support frontier-advancing projects in public safety; scientific and medical research; and education. BBBS applied for the grant because the agency saw a rise in criminal indicators and arrests among high-risk youth. This funding will enable BBBS to design a unique and groundbreaking program that will intervene in the lives of 1,000 youth at critical junctures in their lives and steer them away from criminality. There are three major challenges youth face that are proven indicators of potential criminality: academic failure in elementary school, truancy in middle school and adjudication in high school. By intervening at these three junctures with one-on-one mentoring, the BBBS program will keep these children out of jail, in school and on track to becoming successful adults.
“Through the generosity of the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of the Communities Foundation of Texas, this initiative provides the unprecedented opportunity to target critical indicators in a child’s life and intervene as appropriate to redirect that life,” said Charles Pierson, Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO. “Our organization is incredibly excited about this program that will specifically target those kids most vulnerable to negative behavior. Through the positive guidance of a mentor, we can help these kids achieve high school graduation and go on to become productive citizens.”
Cradle to Prison Pipeline
The three stepping stones that lead to adult criminality are often referred to as the “cradle to prison pipeline.” Studies have shown that if children experience academic failure in elementary school, they are more likely to be truant in middle school.
Truancy is a “gateway offence,” and is linked to delinquent activity in youth, negative behavior in adulthood, and increased propensity for violence and crime. Truant students are more likely to face adjudication in high school.
Children and youth who start down the path to crime are further challenged by severe poverty, low levels of education, restricted opportunity and lack of family stability and role models. In DallasCounty these factors make it difficult for youth to make positive changes. A quarter of all Dallas children live below the Federal poverty level and two-thirds of DallasIndependentSchool students are at-risk of not graduating high school. The vast majority of high-risk children in Dallas lack intervention that might prevent them from becoming adult criminals. In addition, over 100,000 children in North Texas have an incarcerated parent, which translates into a lack of role models, poor family stability and greater likelihood that kids will
pursue the path to crime.
The Caruth Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Initiative has been designed to leverage innovations in the field of youth development and provide positive intervention in the lives of youth most likely to commit crimes. National studies have shown that positive relationships between Big Brothers and Big Sisters can improve the areas of kids’ lives that are critical in helping them avoid delinquency. Little Brothers and Sisters are more confident in school performance, get along better with their families, are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, and are less likely to skip school. The success of the program comes from the creation of safe, positive friendships, which promote confidence in children, healthier families and stronger communities.
“The trustees of CFT are pleased to make this grant from the Caruth Foundation,” said Brent Christopher, President and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas. Public safety was one of the primary concerns of W. W. Caruth, Jr. when he established the Caruth Foundation at CFT.I It is proven that academic failure, truancy and delinquency lead to youth criminal justice system involvement and threaten public safety in Dallas on a daily basis. The innovative Caruth Juvenile Delinquency Initiative, a Big Brothers Big Sisters one-to-one mentoring program, addresses the critical need for intervention in the lives of youth facing some of our community’s biggest challenges. We believe this grant will create and promote a successful model that can be effective here and in other communities, too.”
The Caruth Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Initiative incorporates several new and exciting elements of youth development that promise to raise standards for youth
intervention. Innovations include an emphasis on empowerment and mentoring for
older adolescent youth, an individual educational consultation for each mentored child, an investment in highly-specialized case management staff, enhanced mentor training, a new focus on engaging parents and caregivers, and unprecedented collaboration with the education system and juvenile courts in Dallas.
This program is like no other youth development program in the country because it targets the root problems that compromise public safety. BBBS analyzed these issues and crafted an evidence-based solution designed to reach kids at key points in their lives by using innovative techniques. The Caruth initiative will raise the bar for long-term improvements in public safety and crime reduction.
Reducing crime will benefit public safety and it will also save the state of Texas money. Texas spends over $18,000 per year to hold one person behind bars. By intervening to help high-risk youth and preventing criminal behavior, this youth development initiative could save the state $67 million over five years.
Success Hinges on Academic Commitment and Healthy Behavior
BBBS has established clear and measurable outcomes that will prevent crime by increasing a child’s chance of staying in school and becoming a productive citizen.
To track outcomes, the program will measure numbers of youth with improved grades, higher educational expectations and improved school attendance. It will also count numbers of youth who are arrested, drop out of school, engage in unhealthy behaviors or are incarcerated after their one-to-one mentorship mach. The short-term measurement of success will hinge on the percentage of children who remain out of the criminal justice system at the end of one year. Long-term success measures will include numbers of youth who complete high school and possibly go
on to post secondary education and are well equipped to enter the workforce.
To make this program as strong as possible, BBBS has partnered with an independent evaluator to analyze program progress on a quarterly basis and suggest corrective actions as needed. Dare Mighty Things has expertise in performing assessment and mentoring. The overall goal is to develop a successful pilot program in DallasCounty that can be replicated and scaled across Texas and around the country. With great partners and financial support, this one of a kind program is poised to stand in the national spotlight.
The Caruth initiative will set new standards for public safety by helping youth stay in school, avoid lives of crime and have a better chance of becoming successful adults. Mentors will support kids as they improve their grades and school attendance and raise their educational aspirations. The stability, trust, and confidence gained through the mentorship program will help kids avoid unhealthy behaviors. With more youth staying in school and practicing good behavior, the number of youth arrests, incarcerations and high school dropouts will decline. By achieving these targeted objectives, this innovative project could push the frontier of successful intervention with high-risk youth.
Since its founding in 1953, Communities Foundation of Texas has grown along with North Texas to become one of the nation’s largest community foundations. Through its work, the foundation enhances the experience and impact of charitable giving. It serves as a hub for collaboration between donors, nonprofits and other funding organizations to stimulate creative solutions to key community challenges. This is accomplished through a variety of donor-advised, designated and discretionary funds. CFT strives to thoughtfully and effectively support its diverse donors and grantees by providing exemplary service, by demonstrating accountability, and by generating lasting impact in the community. The foundation professionally manages almost 900 component funds and has awarded over $1 billion in charitable grants.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a donor-supported volunteer organization that places caring adults in the lives of children in one-to-one mentoring relationships. Through the positive impact of those friendships, children with a Big Brother or Big Sister are more likely to graduate from high school and are less likely to begin using drugs, begin using alcohol or engage in negative conflict. For more information, contact 888.887.BIGS or www.bbbstx.org.