Prevention; Ages 10–17
Movimiento Ascendencia (Upward Movement) was a promising Pueblo, Colorado, program for Mexican-American girls that operated in the early 1990s for the purposes of preventing them from joining gangs and reducing their gang involvement. Most of the girls served in this program were in need of prevention and intervention services. The average age for participants was 14; most of them were gang-involved and had experienced contact with the juvenile justice system. Participants were recruited into the program mainly by youth workers; however, participation was voluntary.
Project activities targeted the recruited youths and their families and centered around three main components: mediation or conflict resolution, social support, and cultural awareness.
Activities were designed around three main components: cultural awareness, mediation or conflict resolution, and self-esteem or social support. Participation in any of the Movimiento Ascendencia activities was voluntary. The program included:
- Mentoring—girls were matched with a female mentor with whom they spent at least two hours a week for nine months.
- Organized sports and recreational activities—such as movies, pizza parties, and talent and fashion shows.
- U-R-IT—tutoring and homework support was given by staff twice a week after school within the school. This component also included gender-specific life-skills training on topics such as self-esteem, pregnancy prevention, personal grooming, personal safety and self-defense, loss and grief, relationships and emotions, and career goals.
- Cultural enhancement—attending cultural fairs, listening to speakers talk about different cultures, day trips into Denver or Colorado Springs.
- Case management—an initial home visit and needs assessment was conducted when a girl first joined the program. She was referred to services in the community.
- Parental involvement—parents transported children to activities and scheduling activities that included the family, such as an annual awards banquet.
- Safe Haven—provided a safe place where girls could go within their communities.
The program evaluation compared participants with a comparable control group. Program participants showed significant reductions on multiple measures of delinquency involvement. Program effects on school achievement were also statistically significant.
- Exposure to firearm violence
- Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)
- High alcohol/drug use
- High drug dealing
- Illegal gun ownership/carrying
- Physical violence/aggression
- Violent victimization
- Child maltreatment (abuse or neglect)
- Delinquent siblings
- Family violence (child maltreatment, partner violence, conflict)
- Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)
- Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school
- Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
- Poor school attitude/performance; academic failure
- Neighborhood youth in trouble
- Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
- Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
- Gang membership
- Peer alcohol/drug use
National Gang Center and OJJDP Model Programs Guide: Promising program
Pueblo Youth Services Bureau
1920 Valley Drive
Pueblo, CO 81008
Phone: (719) 542-5161
Fax: (719) 542-1335
Williams, K.; Curry, G. D.; and Cohen, M. (2002). “Gang Prevention Programs for Female Adolescents: An Evaluation.” In W. L. Reed and S. H. Decker (eds.), Responding to Gangs: Evaluation and Research. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, pp. 225–263.