Prevention initiative to support at-risk youth in South County Area
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) has received a second major commendation for its Gilroy Library’s Rise Up: Supporting At-Risk Youth program. The California Special Districts Association (CSDA) named Rise Up its 2020 Innovative Project of the Year for Large Districts in August and recently published an article about it in their magazine. Rise Up was also honored last year by the California State Association of Counties.
“I am pleased to see this life changing program getting the recognition it deserves,” said County Librarian Jennifer Weeks. “Through the collaboration of local government, community, and support organizations including the Gilroy Library, Rise Up has made a major contribution to the lives of hundreds of South County families.”
Rise Up is a partnership between the Gilroy Library and various County agencies, including the District Attorney’s office and the Department of Child and Family Services. Working closely with the South County Youth Task Force and local nonprofits, Rise Up was created as a multi-pronged intervention program designed to help parents of youth who have been involved in the criminal justice system steer their children clear of gangs and other negative behaviors.
A recent article in the Gilroy Dispatch details the nearly two-thirds reduction in youth arrests over the past decade, which the Gilroy Police Chief attributed to efforts of the South County Youth Task Force. Gilroy Unified School District also reported a significant reduction in the number of students expelled. Rise Up, with took place in 2019 with some continuing elements, contributed to this larger movement to empower families and improve outcomes for youth.
“The progress that has been made in South County to significantly reduce youth truancy and arrests is impressive and impactful,” said Mike Wasserman, County Supervisor and President of the Library Joint Powers Authority Board. “Rise Up has been a catalyst for this change, one that will be long-lasting by including ongoing training of community leaders to continue the work.”
Rise Up consisted of multiple program components, including a peer-based support group for new mothers led by local volunteers known as “madrinas,” or godmothers. For teens, classes in mindfulness and numerous field trips to local sites of interest were provided. Project Parent helped parents of youth facing truancy and delinquency issues develop better communication strategies and emotional support. Also, a sustainable leadership training program helped to identify individuals from the community to train to work with at-risk youth.
In addition to the two awards it has received for Rise Up, SCCLD was also recognized with an award in 2019 from the Urban Library Council as the first public library to offer a mindfulness and meditation app, Headspace.