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Community Matters

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Bullying, Children & Youth, Education, Educational Services, Youth Community Service Clubs, Youth Development Programs

Mission: To collaborate with schools and communities in creating safe and inclusive environments where all youth and adults thrive.

Results: In 2011, the Safe School Ambassadors program was evaluated by an independent third party consisting of Dr. Alexander White of Texas State University, San Marcos, and Dr. Katherine Raczynski and Dr. Andy Horne of the University of Georgia, Athens. The multi-year evaluation found several statistically significant outcomes: - Increased rates of intervention in bullying incidents by Ambassadors; - Improved school climate among friends of Ambassadors, who also reported increased rates of intervention in bullying incidents by their peers; The evaluation also showed that when the program was implemented as designed, SSA schools showed suspension rates dropped 33%, while suspension rates in non-SSA schools increased 10% during the same years. This holds true for similar populations including large, inner city public schools. The 2011 evaluation led to a listing in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). The SSA Program met NREPP’s requirements for review and has been independently assessed and rated for Quality of Research and Readiness for Dissemination. This confirms that the evaluation is from a reliable external source. Through the SSA program, individuals will benefit from a true and sustainable improvement in school climate at all participating schools as evidenced by: ‐ Decrease in bullying incidents, - Reduced disciplinary incidents such as suspensions and expulsions and time spent on disciplining students, ‐ Increases in self-esteem of chronically absent and often bullied students as evidenced through an increase in their attendance at school.

Programs: Student-centered, school safety and climate programs- peer to peer, bystander education programs; proven effective and scientifically based [Safe School Ambassadors has been listed in SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices]. The programs include implementation and ongoing support/management of Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) programs, as a long-term solution to address an ever growing and evolving need. Aimed at prevention of violence and bullying, in its many forms, SSA engages and empowers students, k-12, and reestablishes school as a safe place for all children and youth.

School Climate Initiatives- Engage key education stakeholders (administrators, staff, parents, community and youth) in school climate improvements intended to create long-lasting systemic changes. These programs include: Whole School Climate audits, administrative trainings, staff development trainings, parent workshops, youth summits, SSA Training of Trainers, and program consultation. Key strategies of these programs including: program assessment and audits, group facilitation, trainer development, support for program improvements and stakeholder trainings.

Community Building & Outreach - Delivered keynotes, workshops & training sessions at conferences, symposia & other gatherings on the subjects of school climate, safety & violence prevention, starting & sustaining partnership, & engaging youth as resources in improving their schools & communities.

Community Stories

33 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Community matters serves many schools that I work with. The safe school ambassadors program has redefined culture at these schools. Some schools were unsafe and frequently vandalized but upon implementation of SSA they became model schools with energized students, faculty and engaged parents. I can’t emphasize enough the positive change in student perspective due to this excellent program.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked for Community Matters for 5 years and feel grateful to work with an organization that educates students and school staff, empowering them to be active in creating a connected and caring community on their campuses. The teams of staff members and trainers I work with do amazing work that increases the life and relationship skills of all who participate and embody the practices. Watching this work grow over the years and seeing so many benefit has been inspiring and heart warming.

1 shayleneking

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a trainer for Community Matters, I train their student led bully prevention program
Safe School Ambassadors. Students learn actions they can use to stop mistreatment when they see it on campus. Many of the actions stop bullying from happening or distract mistreatment from continuing. After training a school for over three years, the counselor at the contacted me to let me know two of the ambassadors I trained used one of the actions from the training I taught them and it stopped a school shooting from happening. It was a profound moment to see the power and impact of a Community Matters program.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am interning at Community Matters because I think it is important for schools and organizations to have the right trainings to create safe spaces for our youth. It is important to allow safe places for our youth and CM provides the support and trainings that encourage it.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Community Matters is such a jewel for educators and students! I am very proud to be able to share that I have been working at Community Matters for 3 years. Daily I take such pride in my work, being part of such a dedicated team of professionals, working together with strength to empower youth voice, increase quality of learning environments, and being a reliable partner for educators.
Empowering students to be upstanders and supporting educators are crucial responsibilities of ours that are needed now more than ever.
Big shout out to all the dedicated educators working exceptionally hard to make students experiences excellent!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

A caring, close-knit group of dedicated professionals serving our nations school staff and the SEL needs of our students. Mission-driven, heartfelt and rewarding work!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Safe School Ambassadors enable students to make positive choices for themselves and friends. There's an equity of voice, and SSA harnesses the power of our youth to make that tremendous difference in our community.

1 Mario C.3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been a trainer for Safe School Ambassadors since 2006, and yet the story that stands out most for me happened at the very first training I conducted. It was at Middle School in California. After the activity "Crossing the Line," during which students and teachers share experiences about being a target, an aggressor, and/or a bystander in situations of mistreatment, we were talking about feeling that had arises. One boy said: "I felt ashamed of all the times I crossed the line for being an aggressor; but then I felt good because I realized I didn't have to behave that way anymore. I have shared that story in hundreds of trainings I have conducted since. - Mario Cossa, Master Trainer, SSA, Community Matters

1 EricaVogel

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the honor and privilege of working for Community Matters for last decade. The Community Matters mission is so completely aligned with my life's work in the education and positive youth development fields. Empowering kids to be the leaders we want and need them to be in the future with skills that equip them to make a difference in their communities is so important.

Not only do I get to do work I am passionate about, but I also have the opportunity to work with some of the best people I could ask for. The Community Matters team (staff, trainers, volunteers, partners, and donors) is full of fun loving, caring, dedicated and very talented people.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since my very first introduction to Community Matters over 10 years ago I was impressed and amazed at the incredible commitment of the staff and trainers who work with young people and educators. Not only were they skillful in their practice, it was their incredible enthusiasm and experience in delivering the services that won me over. They walked their talk and put their passion for waking up the courage of young people, front and center. I entered the doors as a volunteer, then a staff member and now a trainer. I couldn't be prouder to represent such a worthwhile organization or to belong to such a dedicated, heartfelt, compassionate group of individuals.

1 trentonjack00

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a high school student, I was trained as a safe school ambassador which taught me and fellow classmates how to support and empower our school and classmates at risk of abuse. They truly helped bring a more balanced and peaceful environment to my school.

Board Member

Rating: 5

To help public safety and stop the shooting and people getting killed cause there is no more protection in the public event such as big malls

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned of this nonprofit through a friend and was able to participate in their latest fundraiser. What a treat....I was inspired and moved. The stories the children shared, who have gone through the community matters training were powerful and I hope their stories reach the general public- you can't ignore the impact they are having. Thank you Community Matters for doing the work you are doing.

Glenn L.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is a proven approach to empowering youth voice and healthy connections.

LyndseyRose B.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Community Matters was a huge part of my childhood and now a part of my sibling’s. Everyone who works at CM has a huge heart and a passion unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met. They are dedicated to everyone they serve and are always looking to expand their reach to anyone who needs it. Even into adulthood they have brought me endless laughs and positive experiences and I am so excited that they continue to be a part of my life as they influence my littles!

Board Member

Rating: 5

A great organization doing fabulous work with our students

Board Member

Rating: 5

This is one of the best organizations I have come across both in the passion behind the objectives and the impact it has on those it is working to help. It has an extensive reach across the country and internationally, and is completely focused on the prosperity of our youth. It runs completely on the support of the communities and its employees and has been a mainstay in so many school systems over the years. The ability of this particular group to create real change in the lives of kids is to be commended. The Safe School Ambassadors program, which teaches students skills to help prevent violence and bullying in our schools that occurs everyday, is an amazing endeavor!

Board Member

Rating: 5

It is inspiring to hear the stories of the youth that Community Matters has empowered to stand up against bullying. I have listened to youth ambassadors share their learned interventions and courageous actions. Safe School Ambassadors is evidence based and the learnings of this program help grow respectful, caring and responsible members of our communities.

Board Member

Rating: 5

CM will change the world with their passion and commitment!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Community Matters is an excellent non-profit with a mission to improve school cultures from the inside out to provide safety and security for our children. The organization is expertly run and the mission is truly wonderful. 5 stars!

Aaron F.2

Board Member

Rating: 5

Community Matters, matters!
Seeing the change in school climate by having the SSA program in a school is priceless. They are helping kids become productive and caring adults. Live by the mantra "always be a part of something bigger".

Board Member

Rating: 5

Community Matters does important work in helping students of all ages and the adults in their school to create a safe and nurturing environment. Learning how to intervene when they see bullying is a tool that changes the lives of the victim , witnesses and the perpetrator.
It has given me tools and courage to intervene responsibly.

Client Served

Rating: 4

We are in the midst of our fourth year of operating a district wide Safe School Ambassador program. In my opinion, all districts should adopt an anti-bullying program, whether it is the SSA program or a different program. RBUSD has embraced the SSA program developed by Community Matters and it has been a great addition to the students of our school district. Every year we have over 400 students receive a powerful two day training to introduce them to the SSA program. Year by year these students are moving through the grade levels from elementary, to middle, and then to high school. Our students begin to learn about the effects of bullying and what they can do to help. Many students no longer feel hopeless and helpless to end the cycle of bullying. Students are given tools to respond to bullying that they can use throughout their lives. For those of you who may be contemplating adopting the SSA program I would say the following: take action, do not wait until an extreme incident occurs in your district, do the right thing, and do not be a bystander.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

The Safe School Ambassadors Program has become part of the foundation of our Safe Schools Initiative. Over the past 8 years, we have expanded the program to almost all of our middle and high schools. The student approach has lead to some wonderful outcomes as kids begin to really take on concern for their peers. As the district coordinator for the program, I continue to be both a support and an advocate for the SSA Program.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a County Office of Education Prevention Programs Coordinator it has been my honor to work closely with Community Matters staff for almost two decades. From Community Matters founder Rick Phillips to all of the trainers and staff, we have always found their level of professionalism and support to be of the highest caliber. We have engaged with Community Matters to do the 24 Hour Relay Challenge to support youth development programs like peer helpers, Friday Night Live and Safe School Ambassadors.
For over 10 years we have worked closely with Community Matters staff and trainers to do initial training sessions and follow up support for the Safe School Ambassadors program, including a close partnership to conduct training of trainers for a group of local SSA trainers. The Community Matters staff are always helpful, friendly and fully engaged to offer support for our school safety efforts. This collaborative partnership has truly helped us to engage youth as leaders to keep their schools safe.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

The Community Matters Safe School Ambassadors program has been an integral part of our school district's comprehensive diversity awareness initiative. Started at one of our schools in 2006, the successful program is now at eleven of our sites. CM has supported our efforts by providing trainers, instructional materials and refresher workshops. Our District has received multiple regional and State awards for its diversity and anti-bullying efforts, and CM has been a major partner with us.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Community Matters Safe School Ambassadors Program was introduced to our school district four years ago in one school. Today we have it in 21 schools. Their program is unique and innovative. Their facilitators are extremely talented and engage students and staff with skill and enthusiasm. This is not your standard Power Point presentation with a handout. This is a well-designed, interactive two-day whirlwind that will change the lives of many of your students. Ask them to visit a training session. You will want it in your school!

Tim_19

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In October 2012 as part of our regional "Anti-bullying" programs with schools, the representatives of Community Matters presented to our local representatives. Their "common sense" and methodical approach was well received and at least two of our Western Pennsylvania schools are interested to hear more!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In October of 2012, I had the pleasure of hosting a Safe Schools Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This conference was strategically aligned with National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month and National Cyber Security Month. My overarching goal was to provide conference attendees with Subject Matter Experts from the Public, Private and Non-Profit Sectors, to create new levels of awareness and potential solutions to the growing epidemic of bullying in schools, homes and in the workplace .

After intense research and thoughtful consideration, I decided to contact Community Matters to see if they would be willing to serve as a representative from the Non-Profit sector. In working collaboratively with William Grace Frost (Director of Strategic Operations - Community Matters) I discussed the need to secure a speaker from their Instructor Cadre. In planning this conference, I knew I wanted one of the presenters to share insight about the "Financial Impacts of Bullying", which is rarely discussed. I was pleasantly suprised to hear that Rick Phillips (Founder and Executive Director), was willing to travel from the West Coast to the East Coast (greater than 2500 miles), and would underwrite the costs of travel and lodging to support this effort. That type of dedication in the provision of community outreach is exemplary of the pearls of wisdom shared by Ghandi ... "Be the change that you wish to see in this world". Some Non-Profits "write" a mission statement, Community Matters - lives their mission.

Community Matters is a solutions based organization, which continues to have a positive impact throughout the United States and beyond. The entire team at Community Matters works tirelessly to promote the mission and goals of "their" organization. This is evidenced through their passion, dedication and committment in their ongoing develpment of strategic initiatives and community outreach which serves to change the world in which we live.

Carol Adams

Advisor

Rating: 5

Community Matters' cost effective proven programs create a fundamental shift that is so necessary in our culture: inspiring young people to stand up against violence and abusive behavior whenever they see it taking place. The organization has an innovative approach, working with alpha students from every social "clique" so that impacts of the program diffuse through the entire school population from the inside-out, that is, starting with students. The whole school climate shifts to become safer and more welcoming for all, with significantly reduced suspensions, abusive incidents, and resulting costs.

I've worked as Executive Director of an arts non-profit doing music outreach to K-12 students, and currently work extensively with another successful non-profit focused on teen leadership. I've seen the huge difference it makes to reach young people with a well-honed life-affirming message. Community Matters delivers life-changing impacts that transform students into leaders and peacemakers for the rest of their lives.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Community Matters represents a critically important initiative to provide real and sustainable programs designed to mitigate bullying and violence in our schools. This "inside-out" approach is without question the best, and I think, only viable and feasible manner in which we can hope to truly impact significant numbers of our nation's children and public education institutions. It enables kids to impact the essential culture of their schools by empowering their natural inclination to step up and "do the right thing", exercising with courage their natural sense of fairness and equity. What we desperately need now is the will of adult leadership to provide the meager intellectual and financial support to replicate the growing number of successful Safe School Ambassador programs across the country.

John145

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a risk managment services provider to hundreds of school districts across the Country, I have encountered numerous programs designed to positivley impact school violence. Sadly many turned out to be nothing more than a revenue stream for the provider. Community Matters and the Safe School Ambassadors program stand out as highly effective student centered solutions that are incredibly affordable. Simply put Safe Schools Ambassadors empoers our children to be the solution to school violence.

Client Served

Rating: 5

After working in the risk management field for the past 25 years I find it highly unusual to find an organization like Community Matters that is so in-tune with the needs of our public schools. What is refreshing is that the prevention philosophy held by the organization is applyed with such accuracy and practicality. Furthermore, the level of service from top to bottom has been extreemly professional. I would highly recommned that Community Matters be incorporated into any distircts strategic risk planning.