WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Oct. 22, 2014.  The Health Education Council (HEC) was awarded $1.1 million over three years from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH), in partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), to support the Sacramento Minority Youth Violence Prevention (SMYVP) Initiative.

The SMYVP initiative will link existing public health and local community policing efforts in a coordinated and integrated approach aimed at improving academic outcomes for young African American, Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander males, increasing their access to public health and social services, reducing negative encounters with law enforcement and reducing violent crimes against these youth.

The Health Education Council (HEC) in collaboration with the Sacramento Minority Youth Prevention Initiative will:

1) Form a multi-sector collaborative to increase local coordination of services and resources to reduce minority youth violence and crime in Sacramento;

2) Further integrate and expand the reach of Sacramento’s public health and community policing practices and the hospital-based Sacramento Violence Intervention Program into the curriculum of the Male Leadership Academy (MLA), a school-based youth leadership program that addresses the physical, social and emotional needs of minority male youth; and

3) Integrate MLA within the Sacramento Saturday Night Lights program, a summer initiative aimed at building a sense of community, creating safe opportunities for youth to become active and engaged during the summer.

To accomplish these goals, HEC will partner with the Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento County Health and Human Services Department, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento, Sierra Health Foundation, the Boys and Men of Color Collaborative, WellSpace Health, Mack Road Partnership and Sacramento Unified School District (SCUSD) and Elk Grove Unified School District.

“Health Education Council has seen firsthand the link between our work to address healthy eating and active living and violence prevention efforts in South Sacramento,” said HEC Executive Director Debra Oto-Kent.  “Convening partners to look at these public health threats in a systemic, collaborative manner has seen very positive results.  This is why Sacramento is one of nine communities across the country being looked at by OMH and COPS to demonstrate the effectiveness of this problem-solving approach to addressing minority youth violence.”

The SMYVP initiative will address both the disparities in access to public health and the higher risk of violence and crime in Sacramento County among minority male youth. Many factors are connected to youth and gang violence including poverty, unemployment, high truancy and dropout rates, family structure, resiliency and a lack of coordination between social services and programs.

“The Sacramento Police Department is happy to be a partner with the Health Education Council in this collaborative effort,” said Lieutenant Roman Murrietta, a key partner in HEC’s healthy eating and active living events. “When we come together to unite and strengthen communities we not only prevent crime we build relationships, foster trust, and reduce the number of arrests. It is a win, win, win for the community!”

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About The Health Education Council

The Health Education Council (HEC) is dedicated to providing access, education, advocacy, and training to empower individuals towards a healthy life.  For over 25 years, HEC’s main focus has been is to eliminate preventable causes of death resulting from the use of tobacco, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity. As a leader in convening diverse partnerships, HEC has administered federal cooperative agreements with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Office on Smoking and Health, Office on Minority Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For more information, please visit www.healthedcouncil.org.

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