SFV Coalition on Gangs

Bobby Arias is the president of Communities In Schools (CIS) Greater Los Angeles a public/private partnership for “at-risk” youth. CIS facilitates Prevention, Intervention, Hard-Core Intervention, Parenting, Job Development, and Mentoring programs for societies most at-risk youth throughout the greater San Fernando Valley. To meet the needs of at-risk youths, Arias was instrucment in establishing the San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs in 2001. The organization's was formed to address and resolve gang crime. The solution was recognitiing that a real answer to the gang problem was a coordinated effort between police and community agencies such as parks, schools, the faith community, neighborhood and service organizations, and non-profits. Suppression had two new partners: Intervention and Prevention.According to Arias, "the program doesn't change people, it is relationships that change people, who spoke at the club's February 3 meeting.

Here are some of the achievements of the Coalition:

  • The LAPD notifies Communities in Schools when a gang member is shot or killed so that they can intervene before retaliation occurs;
  • LA County Probation Officers are now in schools;
  • LA County Dept. of Children and Family Services now rolls out on calls with LAPD and intervenes when children are involved;
  • Recreation and Parks partners with the police for Friday Night Extreme Teens so that local youth have positive evening activities;
  • A mobile skate park now exists for the Extreme Teens Programs and is shared at three parks.
  • The Jeopardy Program (for at risk youth) is on a several school campuses;
  • As a result of racial violence in Canoga Park, a Racial Tolerance Program exists, implemented by the partnership of Recreation and Parks, Canoga Park High School, Columbus Middle School, LA City and County Human Relations Commissions, Communities in Schools and the City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Program.
  • In November of 2008, the Coalition implemented the San Fernando Valley Children’s Day, a Salute to Kids, which drew 45,000 people to the first event, and to this day many thousands of children are introduced to valuable service groups through localChildren’s Day
  • “The Truth Series,” bringing seminars on drugs, gangs and domestic violence to schools, churches and community groups.
The coalition provides free eye exams and dental care, community service project so that the youth understand the value of giving back to the community, job skills training, mental health services, and most important, developing one-on-one relationships with adults.