A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action
Last Revised: Mar 18, 2011 - Initial Posting: Jan 31, 2007
Purpose

The Community Action Partnership of Mercer County coordinates the Weed and Seed Program to combat crime and promote community revitalization.

Description

The Community Action Partnership of Mercer County (CAPMC) promoted Community Revitalization through the Weed and Seed Program, which the agency coordinated for the Sharon/Farrell Target Area. The program included:

  • Weed – Collaborative law enforcement between local and state crime fighting teams to eliminate drugs and violence in targeted neighborhoods.
  • Seed – Prevention, intervention, treatment, and revitalization services through partnerships with other nonprofits, community-based, and faith-based organizations.

This initiative was part of the Pennsylvania Weed and Seed effort that focused on smaller communities that, nevertheless, face significant challenges to quality of life arising from crime and poverty.  Funding was through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency that administers a pool of state funding to help communities that might not otherwise be able to access federal Weed and Seed monies.  Nationally, Weed and Seed is funded through the U.S. Dept. of Justice Weed and Seed Program.  One-half of the dollars awarded in the national initiative must go to policing efforts and there is no mandate for resident/citizen empowerment (training, etc.).

Elm Street Plan for Sharon/Farrell

Strengthening local leadership and increasing resident involvement were key elements of CAPMC Weed and Seed efforts to ensure that Weed and Seed absolutely works as a community-driven initiative.  After initial efforts were underway, the community revitalization initiative was expanded through involvement with the Pennsylvania Elm Street Program that promotes linking revitalization efforts with those in adjacent/nearby Main Streets/downtowns.

The initial Elm Street Plan for Sharon/Farrell focused on issues to be addressed through integrated strategies under the following goals:

  • Increase pedestrian access throughout Elm Street areas while enhancing its visual aesthetics
  • Improve community living by enhancing neighborhoods, increasing safety, and involving residents
  • Improve the perceived and visual image of local Elm Street neighborhoods
  • Maintain a sustainable Elm Street administrative process for Cities of Sharon and Farrell
  • Improve property conditions and maintain/increase housing stock in Elm Street areasSharon/Farrell Weed and Seed Five Year Revitalization Plan

A new five-year plan was developed in 2009 - Sharon/Farrell Weed and Seed Five Year Revitalization Plan:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Community Policing
  • Prevention, Intervention & Treatment
  • Neighborhood Restoration
An Assistance Impact Delegation (AID group) meets monthly to discuss resources that could address community needs.  This group includes representatives from agencies and organizations such as those shown below.  The AID group has been expanded to include community residents who previously would have been involved through a Target Area Local Leadership Team or TALL Team.
  • Shenango Valley Urban League
  • Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Service
  • Endorse Resistance to All Substance Abuse Everywhere - ERASE Anti-Drug Coalition
  • Prince of Peace Center
  • Penn State University Cooperative Extension
  • United Way of Mercer County
  • Mercer County Housing Authority
  • Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission
  • Farrell Area School District
  • Sharon School District
  • Shenango Valley Initiative
  • Neighborhood Family Intervention Center
  • Mercer County Juvenile Probation and Parole
  • Mercer County District Attorney’s Office
  • Mercer County Commissioner’s Office

Some of specific activities carried out through the Weed and Seed/Elm Street Plan have included:

  • Increased policing and law enforcement
  • Increased code enforcement
  • Demolition of blighted properties
  • Playground improvements
  • After-school programs using SAMHSA evidence-based models
  • Reality Tour – a monthly drug prevention program implemented by volunteers

Neighborhood residents were also provided with the opportunity to participate in the BEST Program (Business Education Self-Sufficiency Training) offered by CAPMC.  BEST is a 10-week training course that uses the Microbusiness Program Development Model known as ASSETS developed by MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates.

Annual meetings were held to highlight Weed and Seed accomplishments.  Efforts were also made to build ongoing media coverage as found in these examples:

Institute for Leadership Education, Advancement, and Development

It is essential to note that the implementation of these types of strategies were decided and run by the citizens of the target community.  Leadership development and facilitation of community empowerment has been an integral element of the Pennsylvania Weed and Seed initiative.   Various leadership development models can be used.  CAPMC has been involved with I-LEAD: Institute for Leadership Education, Advancement, and Development.  I-LEAD was developed through involvement with a Fellowship in the W. K. Kellogg Foundation's National Leadership Program.  It focuses intensively on leadership skills development and then helps grassroots neighborhood participants use their skills in connection with real leadership challenges in their own communities.  I-LEAD addresses the concept of who is a community leader, and offers technical assistance support through its Leadership Core Curriculum – Effective Dialogue, Resolving Conflicts, Building Relationships, Negotiating, Systems Thinking, Public Systems, Private Systems, Speaking as a Leader, Political Leadership, Group Dynamics, Ethical Leadership, and Understanding Technology.

Outcomes

90% of low income residents who received I-LEAD training continued to be active in volunteer work in their community after three years.

100% of agencies who began collaborative programs in 2002 (initial funding for projects) continued to work on collaborative projects.

Contact

Adrienne Gordon, Community Planner
724.342.6222 ext. 108