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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Contact: Public Affairs Division

February 2013

Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program


The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program is a gang and delinquency prevention program that is provided to middle– and elementary–school students by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other law enforcement agency partners. G.R.E.A.T. seeks to help students avoid gang membership, violence, and delinquent behavior and teaches students how to resist gang pressure and develop positive attitudes concerning law enforcement.


The G.R.E.A.T. school program is taught by specially trained ATF agents who partner with local criminal justice professionals during the school year. In addition to ATF, G.R.E.A.T. federal partners include the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

History of G.R.E.A.T.

ATF and the Phoenix Police Department collaborated to develop the G.R.E.A.T. Program in 1991. The program began as an eight–lesson middle school curriculum and trained its first G.R.E.A.T. law enforcement officers in early 1992. In 1998, four law enforcement agencies joined to assist in the administration of the program: the La Crosse, Wis., Police Department; the Orange County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office; the Philadelphia, Pa., Police Department; and the Portland, Ore., Police Bureau. In 2004, Congress transferred the administration of the G.R.E.A.T. Program from ATF to the Office of Justice Programs, BJA, at the Department of Justice. In October 2004, BJA awarded a grant to the Institute for Intergovernmental Research to provide national training coordination services and related tasks.

Currently, the G.R.E.A.T. Program has four regions and training sites:

  • Southeast–Nashville, Tenn., Police Department;
  • Midwest Atlantic–La Crosse, Wis., Police Department;
  • Western–Portland, Ore., Police Bureau; and
  • Southwest–Phoenix, Az., Police Department.

The National Policy Board (NPB) is the governing body of the G.R.E.A.T. Program. Chief executive officers from ATF and the other federal partners and law enforcement agencies listed above constitute the NPB, whose chair rotates each year.


Elementary School G.R.E.A.T. Program

G.R.E.A.T.’s six–week, skills–based, elementary school curriculum for fourth and fifth graders provides information that produces attitudinal and behavioral changes in youth. The program is taught in schools and focuses on positive behavior rehearsals, cooperative and interactive learning techniques, and teacher activities. Researchers believe children who display aggressive behavior during their elementary school years are more likely to display antisocial and violent behavior as adolescents and young adults. With the G.R.E.A.T. Program and other prevention efforts, researchers believe there is an opportunity to stop negative behavior.

Middle School G.R.E.A.T. Program

The middle school G.R.E.A.T. Program is a 13–week curriculum that is designed for sixth and seventh graders. In the first evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program in 1995, researchers recommended teaching the core curriculum at the entry level of middle school rather than in the seventh and eighth grades. Evaluators indicated that children undergo major transitions as they move from the fifth to the sixth grade, form new peer groups and become more susceptible to the lures of gangs and peer group pressures.

Specially trained ATF and other uniformed law enforcement officers teach the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum in the classroom and train students to avoid gang pressure and youth violence. The G.R.E.A.T. curriculum also can work with other prevention programs that encourage positive relationships with parents, schools and community, and law enforcement organizations.

G.R.E.A.T. Summer Component

The G.R.E.A.T. summer program builds upon the school–based curriculum, adds structure to summer months, provides an opportunity to enhance social skills, and offers alternatives to gang involvement. Students engage in positive social, cognitive, and interpersonal growth activities that range from field trips to sporting events. While the G.R.E.A.T. summer program is most beneficial when viewed as a reinforcement of the school–based initiative, students come from their communities or from other programs.

G.R.E.A.T. Families Training

G.R.E.A.T. facilitators lead G.R.E.A.T. Families, a six–session program that is designed to strengthen families and assist communities. The curriculum engages parents and young people in cooperative lessons that facilitate communication among family members and enhance family decision–making skills.

The curriculum uses group interaction, activities, and skills practice to foster positive family relations and engage parents and children between the ages of 10 to 14. A G.R.E.A.T. facilitator works closely with one or two co–facilitators to guide as many as ten families (approximately thirty family members) through a variety of activities and discussions.

The G.R.E.A.T. Families program also links the curriculum to specialized family assistance resources that provide G.R.E.A.T. instructors with the tools needed to work effectively with families and family service agencies.

G.R.E.A.T. Officer Training

Certified G.R.E.A.T. Officer–trainers provide instruction to aspiring teachers regarding how to teach the school–based program to elementary– and middle–school students. Before they enter the classroom, incoming G.R.E.A.T. instructors receive 40 or 80 hours of instruction based upon their classroom experience, skills and educational background. They also learn how to teach the G.R.E.A.T. Families component.

G.R.E.A.T. Program Statistics

Since its inception in 1991, G.R.E.A.T. has graduated more than 6 million students. It has certified as G.R.E.A.T. instructors more than 12,500 law enforcement officers and professionals from 2,543 agencies as G.R.E.A.T. instructors.

Fiscal year 2012 statistics for the G.R.E.A.T. Program are as follows:

  • 456 local law enforcement agencies taught the G.R.E.A.T. Program;
  • 1,205 officers and law enforcement professionals taught the G.R.E.A.T. Program in elementary and middle schools;
  • 138,407 elementary students at 2,291 schools graduated from the program;
  • 196,510 middle school students at 2,300 schools graduated from the program; and
  • 25,059 students participated in summer programs.