Project BUILD (Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development; now the BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum) is a violence prevention curriculum designed to help youth in detention overcome problems they may face in their communities, such as gangs, crime, and drugs. The program is designed to intervene in the lives of youth who have come in contact with the juvenile justice system to reduce recidivism and diminish the prospects that youth will become adult offenders. The program began in 1993 in the Nancy B. Jefferson (NBJ) Alternative School of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) in Chicago, Ill.
Project BUILD is part of a larger program, simply called BUILD. The BUILD program combines several popular gang prevention strategies in an attempt to curb gang violence in some of Chicago's most depressed and crime-ridden neighborhoods. The program was founded on the principle that youths join gangs because they lack other, more constructive opportunities and outlets. BUILD tries to provide various alternatives for youths, such as deploying trained street workers, organizing afterschool sports programs, providing career training, and implementing the BUILD Violence Intervention (formerly Project BUILD) Curriculum. The focus of this review is on Project BUILD during the 1998–1999 school years which was delivered to students in the CCJTDC.
The program targeted both males and females who were detained at the CCJTDC and who were enrolled in the NBJ School on the premises.
Originally there was one teacher who taught the Project BUILD curriculum. The program has since been updated so that Case Managers provide the reentry curriculum and follow-up case management services to ensure that youth, upon release, enroll in school and engage in constructive activities to reduce recidivism. Intervention Specialists/Case Managers are at the school during the day, a minimum of 3 days per week, where they conduct the BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum in the classroom or have pullout groups with youth identified by school administrators. In addition, they may have one-on-one sessions with youth that are also referred by teachers and school administrators.
Previous Version of Curriculum
During the 1998–1999 school years, Project BUILD's curriculum focused on four themes pertinent to the lives of the students enrolled in the NBJ Alternative School:
- self-esteem enhancement
- communication skills
- problem-solving techniques
- goal-setting and decision-making
The self-esteem enhancement theme taught students what self-esteem is and what it means to have healthy self-esteem. Students learned how a variety of factors can influence their own self-esteem as well as the self-esteem of others. The communication skills theme supported students in learning the differences between constructive ways of communication versus harmful ways of expressing themselves. Students learned how to identify their feelings as well as the feelings of others so that they could more effectively communicate with those around them. The problem-solving techniques theme focused on violence and drug prevention by exploring students' personal experiences with those problems. Students also learned and used strategies to resolve conflict constructively and manage their anger. The last theme, goal-setting and decision-making, taught students the value of setting goals while also emphasizing personal responsibility for their past actions and movement towards future goals. The curriculum was designed so that course topics would rotate on a daily basis, allowing for all four themes to be taught within a 1-week time period. Friday became a make-up day for students who had missed any of the previous days' classes.
Each theme incorporated several activities such as watching videos, role playing, and creating posters or other artwork. Each week used a diverse sample of these activities; in the following week, different activities were selected so that there was minimal repetition of activities within the same theme. Additionally, the use of guest speakers was incorporated into the curriculum, with a weekly speaker from the Rape Victim’s Advocacy Group giving presentations on a range of topics including rape, domestic violence and prevention, and the empowerment of women. Project BUILD classes lasted for 1 hour and were offered several times throughout the day.
Current Version of the BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum
Project BUILD (BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum) has undergone several changes since the program was evaluated in 2000. Currently, students enrolled in the BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum are taught a variety of new life skills, receive additional academic tutoring and assistance, participate in sports and recreational activities, go on field trips, and engage in leadership development and civic engagement. The BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum includes components such as socio–emotional learning, positive youth development, and restorative justice. Youth may receive anything from one workshop to the full 10-week session of the curriculum. Sessions of the BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum include:
- the Universe Begins with “U”!;
- The Power Struggles—Bully Prevention;
- Choosing Right—How to Make Healthy Decisions for Life;
- the Emotional Rollercoaster.
However, these new components were not a part of the original evaluated study (Lurigio et al. 2000).
Traditionally, the BUILD Violence Intervention Curriculum had been solely based inside NBJ, the school inside the CCJTDC, with follow-up through home visits. Recently, BUILD has established a relationship with the NBJ administration to create opportunities for enhanced programming. Through this, NBJ has provided payment for the first time, and BUILD has also provided services to Charmers, the alternative school that NBJ operates outside the detention center. In addition, BUILD has been providing services at the Westside Association for Community Action Evening reporting center and provided more community-based programming for youth to engage in as an alternative to detention.
10 to 17
The study conducted by Lurigio and colleagues (2000) found that youths who participated in Project BUILD (Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development) had significantly lower rates of recidivism compared to non-Project BUILD youths. Among those students who participated in Project BUILD, 33 percent returned to detention within 1 year, compared with 57 percent of non-Project BUILD youths. Furthermore, the Project BUILD participants who did return to detention took longer time to recidivate (9.6 months) compared to non-Project BUILD youths (7.6 months), a significant difference.