STRYVE Houston has a history of working with partners. Stemming from previous initiatives that were not specific to violence prevention (including a systems-of-care grant), a framework for collaboration existed between community-based agencies serving youth in Harris County and the City of Houston. In addition to HDHHS, preexisting partners included organizations from the fields of mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and special education. Working together, these partners identified gaps between services and strategized about how to bring more of a public health approach to youth services. This effort provided a platform for additional collaborative work and working with new partners. Additionally, HDHHS leveraged its partnership with CDC by engaging its Public Health Informatics Fellowship Program to deliver informatics training to its own staff, as well as staff from the school district. This training built the capacity of partners to apply informatics concepts and principles for effective sharing of violence prevention data.
Before STRYVE was initiated in 2011, the structure for collaboration broadened as partners became increasingly interested in a strengths-based perspective and developmental assets. New partners included agencies that focused on positive youth development, as well as recreation (e.g., YWCA). Having these new partners on board provided a strong opportunity for reaching young people in out-of-school settings with prevention messages. The partners also joined with a coalition of youth-serving, United Way-funded agencies to assess the strengths and needs of approximately 5,000 young people.
This early work served as an important conduit to get partners involved in STRYVE. During this time, partners started to converse with each other and with youth about the substantial effect that physical environments have on the behaviors of youth, which sparked HDHHS to engage with the City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Department, which is responsible for the city’s infrastructure and streets. HDHHS also focused on increasing its collaboration with the Houston Police Department District 14 and its Youth Police Advisory Council around a prevention-oriented public health approach to addressing youth violence.
STRYVE partners alongside HDHHS include major youth-serving agencies (e.g., Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Children’s Protective Services, the City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Department, Council for a Safer County, the Department of Neighborhoods, Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, Harris County Precinct 1, Houston Area Urban League, Houston Independent School District, Houston Parks and Recreation, Keep Houston Beautiful, Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office, National Association of City and County Health Officials, Parents for Public Schools of Houston, Houston Police Department and its Youth Advisory Council, SER-Jobs for Progress, United Way of Greater Houston); faith-based organizations; local businesses; recreation agencies, such as the YWCA; and adolescent leaders. These partners came together at the proposal stage of STRYVE with a shared interest in a prevention model for addressing youth violence.
The STRYVE partnership also incorporates researchers from schools of public health and public administration (including University of Texas’ Prevention Research Center and School of Public Health, University of Houston, Texas Southern University, and Baylor College of Medicine). This provides the basis for including interns in training workshops targeting youth and other STRYVE activities.
Efforts are being undertaken to integrate the youth voice into all of STRYVE’s activities, for example:
- STRYVE Houston implements Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES), an evidence-based violence prevention program for building the capacity of youth to take an active role in preventing youth violence in the community. As part of this program, youth are actively involved in neighborhood development efforts to improve safety and health.
- One of the long-term partners implements Link Up, an annual conference in which young people are involved in designing and conducting youth violence prevention workshops that are offered to other youth.
- The University of Texas Prevention Research Center offers Teen Scene Investigators training. A number of young people in the Houston area have participated in this training and have gone on to work in youth participatory research projects.
- Youth are being trained on asset mapping in their communities, which includes a focus on administering surveys about walkability and safety.