Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

ATF seal
ATF text
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF Press Release

Contact: Ben Benson
For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 6, 2024

Philadelphia Students Graduate from Gang Resistance Education and Training Program

PHILADELPHIA — Special Agent in Charge Eric DeGree of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Philadelphia Field Division announced the graduation of 27 Tacony Charter Academy fifth graders from Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) this week.

“I congratulate the G.R.E.A.T. graduates and wish you the best as you apply your newly developed skills,” said DeGree. “For more than three decades G.R.E.A.T. has strengthened our community by providing our students essential life skills and the opportunity to meet and engage with our law enforcement officers in a learning environment.”

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.

One of the students noted that “G.R.E.A.T. teaches you not to get into gangs, and not to be a bully, and to help others who are being bullied.” Another student said, “I liked the G.R.E.A.T. program because it taught us how to be good and to not get involved in anything violent – to help us have good lives.”

“I like bringing a positive experience with law enforcement personnel to the Kids,” said G.R.E.A.T. instructor ATF Special Agent Michael Baldwin. “Many kids may have negative opinions because of what they have seen in the media or heard from their parents or friends. This program is an ideal catalyst to help remove the negative stigma.”

Tacony Charter Academy guidance counselor Stephanie Katz said, “G.R.E.A.T. and officer Baldwin were amazing assets to Tacony Academy Charter School. The students looked forward to the lessons each week and learned so much that not only will help them today as fifth graders but will also guide them through life as they grow into teens and adults who will bring positivity to our community.”

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.

Information on the G.R.E.A.T. program, its mission and impact on communities is online at .

For additional information contact Ben Benson at

An official website of the U.S. Department of Justice

Looking for U.S. government information and services?