2023 Grants Challenge

Creating Safety in Harvard Park and South Park

UPI will create safety in the Harvard Park and South Park communities by leveraging the organization's two School Safety Collaboratives and Leadership Institute, coordinating with local peacemakers to act as crossing guards, as well as supporting peacemakers to provide on-campus de-escalation and mentoring services for students at Augustus Hawkins High School. These programs will ensure all families can safely access opportunities to learn and engage in recreation.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Community Safety

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

UPI works in underserved Black and Brown neighborhoods, focusing on improving safety in South Los Angeles. Historically, South Los Angeles has experienced decades of public disinvestment and structural racism. Residents experience a widespread crime and gun violence due to the multigenerational gang activity. In 2021, shootings in South Los Angeles increased by 234%, and in 2022, the city experienced over 300 traffic fatalities, the highest number in two decades. UPI's community assessments have also uncovered environmental barriers, such as dangerous traffic signals and unpaved sidewalks, as well as fears of gang intimidation preventing families from accessing local parks and schools. In both South Park and Harvard Park, these communities are experiencing disproportionate levels of vehicular violence and pedestrian fatalities, indicating an expanded approach is needed to ensure safety for families simply trying to walk to local schools and parks.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

In Harvard Park and South Park, UPI implements extensive programs to reduce gun violence and pedestrian fatalities, including two School Safety Collaboratives to increase safety for families, and a Leadership Institute to develop the advocacy capacity of Black and Brown residents. Over the a past year, UPI has also supported the Department of Youth Development to create its first Youth Empowerment and Support Team (YES Team) at Harvard Park's Augustus Hawkins High School by increasing coordination with local peacemakers. With funding, our community safety efforts in the Harvard Park and South Park communities will include: 1. Convening two School Safety Collaboratives with 60 residents to support residents' advocacy for safer school, parks, and pedestrian travel. 2. Training 10 local residents to act as advocacy leaders to ensure address local pedestrian and community violence issues are addressed. 3. Coordinating peacemakers to act as crossing guards to improve safety for children and families traveling to schools and parks. 4. Organizing four community events to create safer streets including a Walk to School Day, 3-1-1 Walk, Neighborhood Slow Down Walk, and Peace Walk. 5. Supporting the successful launch of the YES Team during the 2023-24 school year, ensuring local peacemakers provide de-escalation, intervention, mentoring, and support services for 300 students both on-campus and off-campus of Augustus Hawkins High School.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Persistently high crime rates have a profound impact on Harvard Park and South Park families. Exposure to community violence can lead to diminished feelings of safety and poor academic performance in students. Moreover, when families do not feel safe walking to or playing in local parks, they are less likely to access opportunities for physical exercise and recreation. With LA 2050 funding, UPI will expand its efforts to ensure that children and families can safely access local parks and schools within the South Park and Harvard Park communities. The organization expects as a result of its expanded programs, residents will report at least a 15% increase in their perception of community safety and ease of pedestrian travel, as well as a 10% decrease in violent crime rates within these communities. By creating freedom from violence, UPI will transform conditions in South Los Angeles to ensure residents can achieve healthier and thriving lives.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

UPI is partnering with UC Davis' Violence Prevention Research Program to evaluate the organization's success in reducing violence in South Los Angeles over the next three years. This evaluation is examining the efficacy of UPI's efforts to expand the number of peacemakers providing on-the-ground violence intervention services, as well as UPI's expansion of its School Safety Collaboratives and Leadership Institute to develop resident engagement and leadership of safety strategies. This evaluation utilizes both LAPD quantitative statistics and public health outcome indicators. UPI and UC Davis will analyze community perceptions of safety, as well as lowered levels of gun violence and violent crime to determine the efficacy of our organization's community-centered approach.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 360

Indirect Impact: 4,631

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

UPI will partner with three intervention agencies to provide stipends to support the monitoring of key intersections to ensure safe pedestrian travel to and from parks and schools in Harvard Park and South Park. The intervention agencies will ensure safety for children and families by acting as crossing guards at key arrival and dismissal times. As credible messengers within the community, peacemakers are effective in ensuring vehicles stop for children inside of crosswalks, and limit daily incidents of reckless driving and speeding through their sustained presence. In Harvard Park, UPI will provide stipends to peacemakers through partnerships with Chapter T.W.O. Inc. and Strong Shoulders. In South Park, UPI will collaborate with its long-time violence intervention partner, Resilient.