Investments in programs pay off in vulnerable communities
With a pair of three-year projects wrapping up this year, REACH Edmonton has released evaluations that show substantial payback for government and communities as a result of programs aimed at diverting young people from a life of crime. A full house gathered at Santa Maria Goretti Centre Oct. 3 to hear the evaluation of the REACH Aboriginal Leadership Circle (RALC) and REACH Immigrant and Refugee Initiative (RIRI) programs. Leger Marketing was on hand to present the evaluations of the REACH-coordinated programs that were funded by the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF) as they come to a close. Notable statistics included improved incomes for newcomers and fewer Aboriginal youth involved in the criminal justice system. Participants involved in RIRI saw their quality of life raised by improving their employability skills. Newcomers involved in the program reported a collective increased income of $1.6 million. According to Leger, every dollar invested in RIRI saw a $1.28 return in social value. Youth who participated in RALC programs saw a marked reduction in criminal activity and involvement with the justice system. All participants said they were involved in "a lot less" gang activity while 75 percent said they have had less involvement with police. By turning away from these activities, these youth have avoided $361,000 in public costs related to police, court appearances and legal aid. For every dollar invested in RALC projects, at least $2.50 was returned to the city in social value. "Those are all tremendously important issues, straight out of the REACH recommendations. These projects came from the fact that many people felt marginalized in these communities and wanted to meaningfully participate in life in Edmonton. Projects like these seemed to have helped," said Lindsay Daniller, Practice Leader for Community Initiatives at REACH Edmonton. "These are significant numbers for a projects like this." The full Leger report on RALC can be read here. The full Leger report on RIRI can be read here.