For Immediate Release
Graduation Celebration: Empowering Youth through the G.R.E.A.T. Program
PHILADELPHIA — Special Agent in Charge Eric DeGree of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Philadelphia Field Division announced today the graduation of participating Tacony Charter Academy students who successfully completed the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program. The graduation celebrates the development amongst the students of essential life skills and positive relationships between law enforcement and local community youth.
The G.R.E.A.T. youth and community outreach program was launched in 1991 to proactively combat violent crime. It uses community-oriented policing tactics and community outreach to change perceptions about law enforcement, one student at a time.
In Philadelphia, G.R.E.A.T. program instructors have focused on helping eliminate delinquency, youth violence and gang membership.
“ATF and local law enforcement partners have been serving as G.R.E.A.T. instructors for 31 years,” said DeGree. “Seeing our youth who participate in this program flourish and succeed with their newly developed skills is rewarding for all of our instructors beyond measure.”
“Tacony Charter Academy is grateful for the work Agent Baldwin did with our students,” said Tacony Charter Academy guidance counselor Stephanie Katz. “It is extremely important that our students have additional learning opportunities regarding decision-making outside of school. They must know how to control their emotions in different scenarios and the G.R.E.A.T. program gave them the necessary tools to continue. Thanks to the ATF you for the great support.”
The G.R.E.A.T. curriculum includes violence prevention, conflict resolution techniques, decision-making, goal setting and problem-solving. The elementary school curriculum is a six-week interactive session for fourth and fifth graders with an emphasis on family involvement. Students are taught how to set goals, resist peer pressure, respect differences, resolve conflicts and understand how gangs can negatively impact their quality of life. They also learn the importance of becoming responsible members of their communities.
This training is also part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make local neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in local communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.