Program in schools shows returns for vulnerable families and local economy

REACH Edmonton hosted an event to report back to the community on the results and lessons learned from the Schools as Community Hubs initiative Feb. 5. Schools as Community Hubs (SACH), which was delivered and evaluated over a three-year period, is a crime prevention program that works to build a safe community for children, youth and their families in Edmonton. The program began in three schools - St. Alphonsus, McCauley and Balwin - and grew to incorporate six schools by year three. As a result of this program, 90 percent of participants are experiencing less conflict at home. Of the youth who participated in the program, more than 80 percent feel more satisfied with themselves, have a positive group of friends and are more comfortable with asking for help when they need it. Of the parents who participated, 48 percent said they were able to take on more hours at work. Because of this, participants saw a combined total increase in income of $4.3 million. For every dollar invested in the project, $4.60 is seen in social returns, according to a Leger Marketing evaluation report. "These are pretty substantial numbers," said Lindsay Daniller, Director of Community Initiatives and Development for REACH Edmonton. "This is not just a story about schools. This program has not only positively affected families and children but also the local economy through parents' increased earning capacity and youth's decreased likelihood to vandalize, shoplift or drop out of school." The program cost about $495,000 per year and was funded by the Government of Alberta's Safe Communities Innovation Fund from 2011 to 2013.