Building Safer Communities

To address the conditions that contribute to a young person falling in with crime, staff have developed a Gun and Gang Prevention Strategy under the guidance of a multi-sectoral action table involving local youth-serving organizations.

Building Safer Communities Grant Program

To implement the strategy, the Building Safer Communities Grant Program funds community-based programs to support children, youth and young adults who are at risk of gun and gang involvement.

  • Eligibility criteria

    To apply for the Building Safer Communities Grant Program, your organization / program must:

    • Be incorporated as a non-profit organization, registered charity, or be an urban off-reserve Indigenous-led organization; and have been in existence for a minimum of one year. Grassroots groups are encouraged to apply as a supporting partner within a collaborative grant application.
    • Support children, youth and / or young adults (ages six to 26) in evidence-based crime prevention programs
    • Demonstrate alignment with at least one program area of focus identified in the Gun and Gang Prevention Strategy
    • Demonstrate an impact to increasing protective factors and / or decreasing risk factors for the target population
    • Demonstrate a trauma-informed approach to the delivery of service
    • Deliver all services free of charge to program participants
    • Ensure equitable and inclusive service delivery to support diverse and / or marginalized populations
    • Meet all applicant eligibility criteria outlined in the application guidelines (see page six of the guidelines)

    For more information, see the Building Safer Communities Grant Program Guidelines.

  • Target population

    The target population for this initiative is:

    • Children (6-11 years of age)
    • Youth (12-17 years of age)
    • Young adults (18-26 years of age)
  • Priority populations

    The priority populations for this initiative are:

    • Black youth
    • Girls / young women
    • Indigenous youth
    • Newcomer youth
  • Risk and protective factors

    Risk factors are negative circumstances in the lives of people or communities. These may increase the likelihood that individuals engage in crime. For example:

    • Lack of positive adult role models
    • Low self-esteem
    • Substance use
    • Family violence

    Protective factors are positive circumstances that may help improve the lives of people and safety of communities. These may reduce the likelihood that individuals engage in crime. For example:

    • Good mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health
    • Strong social supports
    • Positive school attachment
    • Stable housing

Project plan

September - December 2023

  • Launch the Building Safer Communities Grant Program
  • Review applications and award funding

January 2024 - December 2025

  • Monitor and evaluate funded programs
  • Identify and support knowledge dissemination about local best and / or promising practices in the area of crime prevention
  • Measure changes in youth safety and well-being

January 2026 - March 2026

  • Develop a sustainability plan

Programs funded by the Building Safer Communities Grant Program

The following programs received a grant for two years from January 2024 to December 2025.

  • Empower Youth Program

    The Empower Youth program is for Black youth of all gender between the ages of 16-22 years old.

    Empower Youth is a comprehensive initiative which involves a series of workshops aimed at equipping Black youth with the tools, knowledge and skills they need to thrive, make positive choices and navigate challenges.

    Youth will be connected with Black role models and mentors and will also be provided with access to a therapist, as needed, to address any mental health concerns.

    Organization: Future Black Female

  • Family and Natural Supports Program

    The Family and Natural Supports program will serve youth ages 16-24 years old and is an enhancement to RAFT's Youth Reconnect program.

    Youth Reconnect provides housing and case management support to youth who are at imminent risk of experiencing housing loss.

    Once housing has been stabilized through Youth Reconnect, the Family and Natural Supports program will support longer term engagement with family, friends and community to ensure that future conflicts do not destabilize a young person's housing once again.

    Organization: Niagara Resource Service for Youth (RAFT)

  • Human Trafficking Prevention Campaign

    Crimestoppers of Niagara will develop, launch and monitor a Human Trafficking Prevention Campaign.

    They will work alongside community partners across various sectors, such as police, youth justice, child protection, health care, Indigenous services, newcomer and / or culturally specific services, and the Violence Against Women sector.

    Organization: Crimestoppers of Niagara

  • Indigenous Youth Employment and Training Program

    The program will provide and connect Indigenous cultural experiences with employment and life skills training for Indigenous youth (self-identifying or of status) ages 19-29 years old.

    Through the program, Indigenous youth will be provided with pathways to career opportunities and / or re-engagement with education to reduce risk of involvement in crime.

    Organization: Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board

  • Navigating Adulthood 101: Transitional Youth Program

    The program is for youth ages 18-23 years old who are preparing to transition out of foster care to independent living. All eligible participants were either removed from, or voluntarily left, their family homes due to unsafe living conditions.

    The Transitional Youth Program involves sessions which are designed to help youth acquire and develop the necessary life and social skills for a successful transition to independence.

    Organization: FACS Niagara Foundation

  • Stop Now And Plan (SNAP) for Niagara

    The Stop Now And Plan (SNAP) program will be delivered, with various community partners, to children ages 6-11 years old and their families.

    The program is an evidence-based cognitive-behavioural model that teaches children struggling with disruptive behaviour issues, and their families, effective emotional regulation, self-control and problem-solving skills.

    Organization: Contact Niagara for Children's and Developmental Services

  • Strengthening Families for the Future

    The school-based Strengthening Families for the Future program is for children and youth ages 6-17 years old and their families.

    The program aims to reduce child / youth problematic behaviours, such as aggression, drug use, delinquency; increase resiliency and life skills; and improve family cohesion and communication.

    The program includes child / youth classes, parenting classes and family practice classes.

    Organization: John Howard Society of Niagara

  • Youth Empowerment Program

    The Youth Empowerment Program is for youth ages 12-17 years old.

    The program is a summer day treatment program for students with substance use and / or addictions issues who participate in the District School Board of Niagara's Alternative Pathways to Education Programs, including the R.I.S.E. (Reducing Incidences of Suspension and Expulsion) Program.

    Organization: Community Addiction Services of Niagara

  • Youth Outreach and Mental Health Services

    This is a specialized outreach and mental health service for youth ages 12-26 years old using a holistic and low barrier approach to care.

    A youth outreach worker will act as the initial point of care for at-risk youth in the community who need access to primary health care, mental health and addictions services, and other social services.

    A youth therapist will get referrals from the youth outreach worker and use evidence-based models of care in providing youth mental health and substance use / addictions treatment, including but not limited to specialized forms of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and other therapeutic modalities.

    Organization: Quest | Community Health Centre

Highlights from the Gun and Gang Prevention Strategy

Based on community engagement, the top risk factors for youth in Niagara are:

  • Substance use
  • Unhealthy relationships, attitudes and behaviours
  • Poor health and well-being

To be happy, healthy and safe, youth identified a need for friends / family, meaningful activities, safe space, housing and food security.

Areas of focus for preventing crime

Ten areas of focus were identified as opportunities for targeted investment to support youth at-risk and include programs which:

  • Increase emotional regulation skills or the social-emotional competency for children and their parents
  • Increase positive attachment to school and improve access to post-secondary education
  • Prevent youth homelessness
  • Support the early identification and treatment of mental health concerns for children and youth
  • Provide opportunities for mentoring and connection to positive peers or caring adults
  • Develop youth conflict resolution skills and / or enable alternative dispute resolution
  • Connect Indigenous youth and their families with traditional healing and cultural activities
  • Provide substance use / addiction treatment for youth
  • Intervene in or prevent youth involvement in human trafficking
  • Support Black and racialized youth with a positive sense of community belonging


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