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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 is 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 in areas on school climate, safety & violence prevention, starting & sustaining partnership, & engaging youth as resources in improving their schools & communities.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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!

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.