Can our community reduce crime?
Yes, we can.
From 2018 to 2022 three Kensington and Fairhill nonprofits—HACE, Impact Services and NKCDC—came together to support community residents, community organizations and the police. The coalition, called We CAN (Change & Action Now) was supported by a crime reduction grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Our vision is a safe and unified neighborhood where residents work together to build trust, eliminate crime, and advocate for their community.
We still can!
Although Department of Justice funding has ended, many aspects of the program continue with the support of community organizations.
- Monthly We CAN meetings have transitioned to local civic associations, with block leaders including community safety topics and resources at meetings of Somerset Neighbors for Better Living (SNBL), Harrowgate Civic Association, and Kensington Neighbors Association.
- SNBL is also continuing the work of the We CAN Town Watch patrol group in and around Orinoka Civic House, an NKCDC-owned apartment building on Somerset Street.
- NKCDC’s Nourish program continues to support We CAN block leaders with emergency food distribution and nutrition education.
- By Faith, Health, and Healing, a resident-led nonprofit, offers weekly trauma support for mothers and fathers at the Community Center at Visitation
- Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) projects—which were developed, implemented, and maintained by We CAN block leaders over the past three years—continue to be spaces for hosting events and sharing resources. Residents have access to activity kits to organize events for their neighbors that support the community cohesion that the We CAN program built. HACE’s Livability Academy will train new resident leaders in SafeGrowth and CPTED principles to share in the upkeep and impact of the projects. With support from Everytown USA and LISC’s Safety and Justice program, NKCDC will support additional programming and physical improvements at two We CAN block projects through 2022.
We’re focused on an area in the Kensington and Fairhill neighborhoods of Philadelphia, in the 24th Police District.
- Increasing collective efficacy—bringing neighbors together, building trust, and empowering local residents and organizations to make change.
- Strengthening relationships and collaboration between the police and the community.
- Reducing physical disorder—cleaning, greening and designing safer blocks.
Since May 2019 we have engaged thousands of residents through Chat & Chews, National Night Out, Safe Clinics, community clean-ups, trauma-informed art workshops, holiday events, block parties, resource fairs, art exhibits, and Police Buddy Outings to destinations like the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Zoo.
Monthly stakeholder meetings, which continued by Zoom through the Covid pandemic, included presentations on CURE Violence, Trauma and Safety Plan creation, and a “How Can Art Activate Community?” artists panel, which was featured on WHYY public radio.
In collaboration with Mural Arts and supported by the Philadelphia Office of Violence Prevention, a series of intergenerational art workshops led by three local artists resulted in a traveling exhibition, From Kensington With Love: Behind The Veil. Our “Reach Out and Touch” initiative includes back-to-school outreach, Thanksgiving basket distribution, and a holiday toy give away.
My Voice Matters
From February to May, 2021, We CAN organized My Voice Matters, a policing and community safety study conducted through innovative dialogue sessions with Kensington and Fairhill youth. The conversations were facilitated by Creative Praxis and supported by researchers at Rutgers-Camden. Twenty young people aged 14-24 attended six workshops on Zoom, then presented their recommendations to Kensington residents and the police.
Later that year, 24th District Captain Pedro Rosario dedicated 10 police officers and the Community Relations Officer to take part in a five-session Trauma Training, focused on understanding trauma from clinical, community, and youth perspectives. The goal is to offer this comprehensive trauma training module across the district.