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Urban Peace Institute Launches its South Park School Safety Collaborative

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The Urban Peace Institute (UPI) officially launched our South Park School Safety Collaborative with support from the Goldhirsh Foundation’s LA2050 initiative. Through LA2050’s PLAY category, UPI is reimagining community safety by supporting peacemakers and building community leaders. UPI now convenes the South Park School Safety Collaborative, uniting over 50 stakeholders to come together to strategize on reducing gun and gang violence and improving community health. Stakeholders include school administrators, parents, community leaders, community violence intervention workers, and LAPD Community Safety Partnership Bureau officers.

After significant strategic planning and community outreach, UPI hosted the first meeting at South Park’s 49th Street Elementary in February! Over 20 attendees gathered to share upcoming community events, identify safety concerns, and brainstorm solutions including advocating for increased street lighting. There is a significant need for these safety efforts in the South Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles, as community members report reckless driving, illegal activity at pocket parks, school break-ins, and fear of gun violence. The School Safety Collaborative provides a safe space for folks to raise concerns and make their voices heard.

In addition to the South Park School Safety Collaborative, the LA2050 grant award is supporting UPI’s 2022-23 Leadership Institute training. The Leadership Institute trains leaders on best practices in advocacy and community engagement and is comprised of three cohorts: Emerging, Advanced, and Congress. Since October 2022, UPI holds monthly classes for each cohort, as well as encouraging civic engagement participation in between classes through homework assignments.

In the Leadership Institute, participants learn to use 3-1-1 tools to address built environment concerns that make simple daily activities like walking to school or the grocery store a challenge. A current homework assignment asks participants of the Emerging cohort to watch UPI’s new documentary Everybody Deserves Peace to better understand how their roles as community leaders intersect with the work of peacemakers. Notably, the Congress cohort recently visited City Hall and attended a City Council meeting to observe public comment and prepare to advocate for their own campaigns.

At the core of UPI’s effectiveness is the feedback we receive from the various stakeholders and valuable community partners. To measure the success of our programming and identify areas of growth, UPI administers community assessments to measure feelings of safety and analyzes data from the Community Safety Partnership Bureau to track patterns of violence.

Looking forward, UPI is eager to continue growing participation in the South Park School Safety Collaborative’s biweekly meetings. Community input and parent involvement is vital to ensuring the space is effective in improving community safety. As part of the collaborative’s Safe Routes to School initiative, UPI is planning Walk to School Days in May and August in the South Park community to promote walking and biking and enhance feelings of safety alongside our partners.

UPI is also excited to celebrate the 28 participants of the Leadership Institute with a graduation ceremony in June. Leaders will graduate feeling empowered to lead regional safety initiatives, as well as develop culturally competent public spaces and programs in their communities. Their efforts are integral to advancing community health and well-being.

We are grateful for the support from Goldhirsh Foundation through the LA2050 initiative and welcome folks to join us in supporting peacemakers and community leaders to thrive! To learn more about the Urban Peace Institute, please visit us at www.urbanpeaceinstitute.org.

AuthorUrban Peace Institute