New ReSET 2020 Youth & Family Challenge Outreach Effort Launches
The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for the work of the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities (SET) Fund which makes grants to organizations and programs that work to reduce youth violence. At the end of 2019, seven grants were made from this fund which largely focused on engaging at-risk youth with supportive mentoring and other programming. Together, the SET grantees and other local nonprofit, government and community partners have developed the ReSET 2020 Youth & Family Challenge summer outreach effort as a way to pivot their work in response to the new reality where COVID-19, social isolation, and social unrest pose new safety threats, particularly for the most vulnerable in the community.
“When we talk about ways to keep our youth and families safe, we are not just talking about gun violence,” says Rachel Rockwell, Program Officer at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. “Now our messaging includes best practices for preventing COVID-19 infection, where to turn for help during the economic crisis, supports for coping with unusual stressors, and how to stay safe while exercising rights to protest.”
The ReSET 2020 Youth & Family Challenge key programming elements follow research-based violence intervention methods and include programming tailored towards youth and families most vulnerable to community violence. Efforts include anti-violence messaging from credible community leaders, engagement through street outreach teams for regular check-ins, care packages and porch talks, incentives and awards for program participation, and reliable intervention methods. A website, www.reset2020challenge.com, and a Facebook page called ReSET 2020 Youth and Family Challenge has been created.
Participating SET grantee organizations include the African American Museum of Iowa, Boys and Girls Club of Cedar Rapids, Big Bang Foundation, Jane Boyd Community House/DREEAM Sports, LBA Foundation, Washington High School and Willis Dady Emergency Shelter. Other partner organizations include Kids First Law Center, The Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, Wellington Heights Community Church, Tanager Place, Project Iowa, Four Oaks and a number of community volunteers. Funding to support the ReSET 2020 Youth and Family Challenge comes from the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Cedar Rapids Community School District and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.
The ReSET 2020 Youth & Family Challenge offers challenges for community members to participate in. The first challenge included a request of 30-90 second video of a personal message of safety, peace, and hope for youth and young adults. Videos have been posted online. So far, the effort has engaged over 40 youth and has 39 challenge participants. The Facebook page currently has 323 followers since it was launched in May 2020.
Kathleen Bevins, a Cedar Rapids resident, educator, and ReSET 2020 volunteer says, “I feel the ReSET 2020 Youth & Family Challenge can evolve and turn into something beyond this 12-week program. The infrastructure and social networking is being built to ‘do the work’ long-term.”
The Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities Fund was established in 2018 through a partnership with the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, and the Cedar Rapids Community School District to begin making grants to fund youth violence prevention and intervention work. The first grants from the fund were made in the Spring of 2019. So far, over $160,000 in funding has been distributed.