For the first five years, the initial funding and proposal positioned Montbello as the test site to measure the effectiveness of their intervention efforts and Park Hill as the control site that they would measure their impact against. That process led to the creation of Steps to Success Montbello back in 2011. Although much of the nearly $6 million dollars in funding was funneled towards research costs, the organization also works to issue mini-grants to grassroots-level organizers and to support programs that promote preemptive measures to curbing youth violence.
One of the most effective Steps to Success programs has been Strengthening Families, a program meant to teach families about healthy conflict resolution practices, he said. The organization believes that if they can teach better practices in the community at the family level the long-term impact will be an overall reduction in youth violence. For the 200 families that have gone through the program, the exit surveys say they have found it quite helpful, but Bechhoefer says it’s still unclear if they’ve made any impact on the macro scale in the community.
“We’re uber on the prevention side,” he said. “We think by reducing family conflict that reduces youth violence overall. The data says maybe we’ve had impact but there’s still an uptick in gang violence so we’re still trying to figure that out.”