PRYSE To Report To The Community
The Peninsula Hospital Center will host A community meeting on Friday, February 27, which marks the official culmination of three years of the Pro ject for Rockaway Youth in Safety and Education (PRYSE) and announces some positive trends in the community since its beginning. The PRYSE project was born in 1999 when a coalition of community-based nonprofit and government agencies, led by the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Cen ter, put together a winning application for $8.4 million in federal funding from the Safe Schools/Healthy Stu-dents (SS/HS) initiative. SS/HS em pha sizes an integrated community-wide approach to promoting healthy childhood development and to ad dress ing the problems of school violence and alcohol and other drug abuse. The federal guidelines for the program required collaboration among the local school system, law enforcement agencies, health and mental health agencies, and other community-based organizations. PRYSE was one of 143 grantees awarded SS/HS funding nationwide and one of only 3 in New York City.
Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, the local evaluator for PRYSE, today released an Evaluation Report documenting the work of the members of the Coalition. Among the ten funded partners in the project were Community School District 27 (fiscal manager), the Addabbo Family Health Center (project manager), Bank Street College, Baruch College/CUNY, Com munity Mediation Services, FEGS, New York City Police Department – 100th and 101st Precincts, Queens District Attorney’s Office, Rockaway Development and Revitalization Cor poration, and Rockaway-Inwood Min isterial Coalition. Non-funded partners in the effort have included The Action Center for Education and Com munity Development, Queens Bor ough Public Library, New York City Commission on Human Rights, the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, Administration for Chil dren’s Services, the New York City De partment of Juvenile Justice, the Ocean View/Ocean Bay Tenants As sociation and the Caribbean Women’s Association.
On a peninsula of approximately 100,000 residents, Rockaway is a community of contrasts. With poverty rates in some neighborhoods, like Breezy Point on the western end, as low as 4%, and in others, like Far Rockaway at the eastern end, as high as 31%, many community residents speak of two Rockaways, separated by economic and racial lines. Despite those distinctions, community residents and people working in the area agreed that as a high proportion of the population of Rockaway were under age 18, and as all shared the goal of improved health and safety for youth, that the peninsula would greatly benefit from the SS/HS Initiative.
The PRYSE project has served over 13,000 children and more than 5,000 families on the peninsula in the three –year period between June, 2000 and May, 2003. PRYSE services through funded partners included after-school recreational and tutorial programs, summer youth employment, academic activities, school-based peer mediation, school-based mental health services, pre-employment training for students, and early childhood training for parents and caregivers.
To track community-level outcomes related to the goals and activities of PRYSE, the Baruch College School of Public Affairs conducted telephone surveys of over 900 households in May/June of 2001, 2002 and 2003 (over 2,700 households interviewed in all). These survey data are unique because they focus specifically on house holds with children in the Rock aways, include questions that were specifically designed to track the pro gress of outcomes of interest to PRYSE, and represent a scientifically valid snapshot of the Rockaway community at three points in time.
Encouraging trends in the community since the start of PRYSE include a drop in crime along with an increasing sense of improvement in the problems of youth violence and substance abuse; an increase in the percentage of children and teens involved in after-school and summer programs; an increase in parental involvement in public schools on the peninsula; $3.4 million in new grants for the Rockaways, leveraged by the work of the PRYSE Steering Committee; and the establishment and continuation of a coalition of community residents and leaders, service providers, educators, and law enforcement personnel working collaboratively on solving community problems. A number of challenges remain, in particular finding the means to sustain the services and gains achieved by PRYSE.